I am certainly not the first parent in the world to be surprised at some of the things my child says.
Occasionally the words of our youth shock us. Sometimes they’ll leave you speechless, while other times will just take your breath away.
But on very rare occasions, their words will resonate so deeply as to remain with you for the rest of your life.
And that is exactly what happened to me a few days ago.
It was Wednesday evening around 7:00 PM. I had gotten home earlier than expected from a long day’s commute, and thus entertained the option of doing something special with my son before bedtime, like playing some board games, reading a book, or watching our favorite TV show. He made the decision to watch TV together, to which I stated it just depends on how quickly we finish dinner and complete our ‘nighttime routine’.
With bedtime getting closer by the minute and still several things left undone (homework, shower, etc.), we had to make some sacrifices and unfortunately could no longer watch our show. So as you might expect from a 7-year-old, he did not take the news very well.
And as is sometimes the case with parents and their children, the conversation ramped up from zero (“calm”) to 90 (“mass hysteria and tears”) within 30 seconds.
So I separated myself from the situation to give him some time to calm dawn. But after about 10 minutes, he returned and steered the conversation around a corner I never saw coming.
While at my desk, Ryan came in and asked to sit on my lap. I could tell he was ready to break down in a moment’s notice, but he didn’t. He mustered up the strength he needed, gathered his thoughts, and composed himself just enough to have the following (paraphrased) discussion:
Ryan: “Daddy the reason I got so upset is because we didn’t have time to watch our show anymore.”
Me: “That’s life sometimes Ryan. We don’t always get to do what we plan, and need to learn to be more flexible.”
Ryan: “I know that. But I’m just running out of time and really wanted to watch our show.”
Me: “You’re right – we did run out of time today. So tomorrow, depending on how well you behave, we can try again to watch it.”
Ryan: “No that’s not what I mean. I’m saying that I don’t have enough time in LIFE.”
Me: “I don’t understand. What do you mean not enough time in life?”
Ryan: “You’re getting older daddy. And I’m getting older. And soon we won’t be able to enjoy some of the fun things we do together.”
Me: “Just because we’re getting older, that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy the fun things we’ve always done together.”
Ryan: “Yes but we’ll never get these moments back. Today will never be here again. We’ll never have the chance to make these special memories that I wanted to do tonight. And one day you’ll be in heaven and I won’t get to do this with you anymore. I want to do everything I can with you now while we’re all still here.”
I was absolutely lost for words. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. Here I am thinking he’s just like most other kids his age…stuck in the moment of that day and just looking for another hour of fun time before bed. But that wasn’t the case at all.
He wanted to do more than just watch a show. He wanted to share an experience that will stay with him, long after that evening. He wanted to create a memory that he could hold on to. He simply wanted to make the best of our time together, knowing that our time in life is limited.
I felt like I was talking to an old soul. This was not a 7-y-o child. He was someone who understands the meaning of life, better than most people 10 times his age. And he found it within himself to not only express those feelings with me, but to speak the wise words about life that even I fail to remember from time to time.
Needless to say, this was a moment in my life I will not soon forget. It was a conversation that will fade over time, and thus deserves preservation in our final Footprint. Because one day I want him to look back on this story and realize how proud I am of him. And though he still has much to learn, his soul has a century’s worth of experience to back him up.
Source: America’s Footprints Written by: Joe Fiduccia
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