Pixabay, public domain free image
Source: Photo Credit: Pixabay, public domain free image

My wife and I finally sit down to watch our favorite show, The Voice. We are behind a few episodes since the nights have been full of homework and activities. We are watching the first battle and my youngest says, “Dad, I am ready to work on my persuasive essay.” Really, now? I just want to relax and enjoy some good music. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I like that she is in to her school work and I like that she wants me to help her. “Okay, let’s go,” I say and think about looking forward to watching the show when we are done.

As I lay on her bed while she sits at the foot, I find myself keenly observing what is going on. We are together, interacting, sharing ideas, and teaching each other – me teaching her about writing and she teaching me about what she is writing, and caring, about – child trafficking. She has been reading several books about it in school and while she finds it horrific to think and talk about, she cares. I am enjoying our time and not thinking about it ending and watching the show. I am grateful for this time. I didn’t feel this way, or this aware, with our older two.

She finishes writing her essay. We are done and I am looking forward to watching the show with my wife. Time to get back to the couch. “Now you have to help me memorize it for class.” What, memorize it? Now? “Yes, I need to know it tomorrow!" I take a deep breath and smile to myself. “Okay, let’s do it.” She memorizes it over and over. She has it down. Good, time for the couch.

“Okay, I’ll get ready for bed so you can read to me.” What? Now? Already? “Yes, when did you think we would be going to bed tonight?” I look at the clock. She is right. I take a deep breath and laugh to myself, actually I guess out loud because she asked me what I was laughing at. As I think back, I was laughing at so many things – how I was in her world and she wanted me in it, how my others did too and don’t want me there in the same way anymore now that they are older, how I am so much more aware of these moments now that I am older, and that I can always watch a show recorded on television, and know that every night I get to read and lay with her could be the last.

One of our bedtime traditions is to read Shel Silverstein together. I think we have read all of his books at least 10 times, and we still love them. There is one that stands out as I write and think about the fleeting moments of parenthood and life called "The Clock Man":

“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

The clock man asked the child.

“Not one penny,” the answer came,

“For my days are as many as smiles.”

“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

He asked when the child was grown.

“Maybe a dollar or maybe less,

For I’ve plenty of days of my own.”

“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

He asked when the time came to die.

“All of the pearls in all of the seas,

And all of the stars in the sky."

When we had three young kids needing us all hours of the night and helping them get dressed, bath, and with homework, I was looking for the endless toil to end. Now, I am holding on to those fleeting moments and choosing to embrace them in a way I was unable to when I was younger.  Those moments are different now and keep evolving. A conversation in the car, hearing about a new video game, watching Youtube videos, discussing politics, and listening to music I can’t understand or relate to – but having the opportunity to share a moment.

For those of you with young children, enjoy your moments. I know many are hard, but they won’t last. For those of you with young children who want your attention all the time, enjoy it, for it won’t last. Those of you with adolescents who want you occasionally and annoy you constantly, wait for the fleeting moments of connection, as they will come out of it sooner or later. For those of you with young adults, relish in the time they call or want to see you.

Parenthood is forever and parenting is forever changing.

“How much will you pay for an extra” moment with your child?

 Larry Moyer, from Shel Silverstein
Source: Photo by: Larry Moyer, from Shel Silverstein

All poetry quoted is credited to Shel Silverstein. Pick up and read Shel today for #FridayReads!

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