Monday, April 24, 2006

The Growth Spurt: A Reminder that Time Travels Fast

When Johnny, 5, woke up a few mornings ago, his baby teeth had shifted a quarter inch to make way for permanent front teeth. I kept lifting his upper lip to see what happened. I've never seen someone change so much in one night.

"Does your mouth hurt?" I asked.

No, he shrugged.

Getting older all of the sudden may be no big deal to him, but it is to me. It happens so fast. I mean, I know parents say that all the time, but it really does happen in spurts.

Last night, Johnny talked to his Nana in Boston. He probably said "actually" 10 times in the conversation.

"Actually, it's really hot here. I turned to liquid. Actually, I'm just joking. But actually, it really is hot here..."

"He sounds so much older," she said. Even his voice was different, she said. Did he have a cold?

No, just a case of the growth spurts. He suddenly looks and acts older.

At 9 p.m. last night I came into the living room to find Johnny coloring a poster behind the couch, where Justin was watching a poker tournament.

"What's he doing?" I whispered to Justin, meaning that it was past his bedtime and we'd already tucked him in.

"He's hanging out," Justin said.

Is he old enough to hang out? I wondered. What's next, drumming sounds coming from the garage?

After Nana talked to Johnny, she said her friend used to say, when her boys grew up, "I miss Tonka trucks and Oreo cookies."

You miss this little boy time, she said. If this is how fast it goes by, I miss it already.

"Who wants a snack?" Johnny asked, coming around to our side of the couch. We didn't say anything, since it was practically past our bedtime.

"You don't have to make it. I'll make it," Johnny said, heading to the kitchen.

He came back in with saltines, butter and grape jelly. "Oh, I forgot a thing to cut the butter with," he said, laughing.

Pretty soon, we had crackers heaped in butter and jelly, which were actually pretty good, actually.

As we ate, Johnny listed all the things he knew how to make: butter and jelly sandwiches, just butter and bread, just jelly and bread, just butter and crackers, just jelly and crackers, clompaste (his recipe for pears, marshmallows and chocolate sauce,) and flompaste (the same thing only with honey, too.)

"When I was five, I didn't know how to make anything," I said.

"I always look older," he explained. "When I was three, I looked four. When I was four, I looked five. When I was six...No, I mean now I look six."

Maybe the oldest child always acts a little older, too. Trying new things. Asserting independence. They trick you, at times, into thinking time stands still. This happens when you're in the grocery store holding a baby and your oldest child goes ballistic because you won't let him run through the aisles with his hand held out knocking down whole rows of food. And a few shoppers stop to critique your parenting style.

You need a reminder that life really is a sprint, as much as you wish it was a marathon. So the oldest speeds through growth spurts as a warning to mom and dad.

It goes fast. You hear it all the time, but you never know just how fast until it's gone. Hence, the growth spurt, a glimpse at the speed of time.


Anonymous Jeanne said...

I'm still chuckling over our conversation. So anyway, guess what? Actually...He was trying to get it all out quickly so he could move onto the next topic of conversation. He is quite the storyteller. Just like someone else I know....

4:49 AM  
Anonymous Ma said...

I hate the thought of our Johnny Boy growing up, but he does get funnier every day. I love that he told his Nana that he turned to liquid in the heat. He's a bright one!! Don't worry! The whole process of watching your kids grow is fun and brings new pride with each accomplishment. We still have a ball with our kids. Then you have the Grands - heavenly!!

8:16 PM  

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