Lately, whenever the Husband and I cross paths with parents of newborns (wrestling a infant car seat into a restaurant as we’re walking out; pushing a stroller past our house), our jaws drop. They look so young! we say to each other, and we mean the parents, not the newborns.
Well, I hate to be the one to break the news to you, middle-aged parents of elementary school-aged children, but they are young.
Compared to us, they’re as fresh-faced as infants. Was it only eight-plus years ago that the Husband and I, having just learned I was pregnant, scrutinized couples with children as if we could glean all the necessary information just by watching them, and said to each other — they look so old.
Now they are we. The other day I happened across a recent photograph of someone I last saw 20 years ago, and God help me, the first thing I thought was, he looks like somebody’s dad.
Well, duh. He is somebody’s dad.
Just as I am, mostly, somebody’s mother.
Elder Girleen just turned eight — and now I understand. Why all those years ago my mother, itching for grandchildren, offered to her laggard offspring this rationale for procreation: we would get to re-live our childhoods.
I was having none of it. How excrutiating I at that point believed it would be, to revisit childhood.
But I had forgotten about eight.
Put your hands on the wheel, Beck sings on Sea Change (let’s ignore the fact that his song’s about a break-up), let the golden age begin…
Eight, I would posit, is the Golden Age. Yes, there are still scary things under the bed sometimes and math can be hard and why on earth do they sing about love all the time on Radio Disney? — but mostly the world is your oyster.
Waking up every day is like pulling on a pair of brand-new boots. Eight? I’d re-live that, in a heartbeat.