Photo taken by Len dela Cruz
Today, my four-year old son and I took a bubble bath. It was so much fun. We always have a blast and we even get clean in the process. He always has to fill the tub with a various assortment of toys and that’s fine by me because it only adds to the experience.
Not long after the bath he took a much-needed nap. This gave me time to read and reflect and maybe even write a little bit. And as I began to reflect I realized that I may have just taken my last bubble bath with my son. I doubt it. But it’s possible.
I took my last bubble bath with my nine-year old daughter several years ago. She is growing up now and slowly nearing her teenage years. We still spend a lot of time together, but it is different. I am happy that she still reaches for my hand when we walk in public. But I know, like bubble baths, there will come a day when this will be replaced. Or scarier yet, I will be replaced.
This is not a woe is me story. I am simply reminded of the fact that the window of time for certain activities in our lives is not infinite. And because the windows are not infinite, we must remind ourselves to take advantage of them while they are still open.
I believe the same can be said of the children that we serve each day in our schools. There are windows that open and close on a daily basis. We must become more aware and take full advantage of them while they are still open. Because once they are closed, they rarely if ever, open again.
Children come to school when they are four or five excited about what they are going to do each and every day. They can’t wait to enter our big buildings. Even picking out their lunchbox gets them excited.
Yet, somewhere along the way the joy begins to dissipate. Waking up for school becomes a chore. It seems like every other day they have a local test or a state test and learning just isn’t fun anymore. They take their lunch to school in a brown paper bag. They even pretend to be sick. Just to avoid school. The same place they couldn’t wait to go when they were only four years old.
And one window closes.
Luckily the anticipation of middle school begins to kick in and another window opens. The thought of having lockers and switching for classes becomes exciting. They are much more aware of the world around them and for better or for worse they suddenly begin to notice each other. And while waking up for school is sometimes difficult, the anticipation of seeing him or her gets them there.
But suddenly there is this event called a Science Fair and there is something called acne and school begins to suck. Their words, not mine. Although I’m sure mine weren’t that far off. They don’t see their friends as much because they are homogeneously grouped and when they do see them it is in a crowded and obnoxiously loud cafeteria.
Another window closes.
Yet they know that high school is just around the corner and soon they will even get to drive themselves to school. They can take classes that actually interest them and there are sports and clubs and so much going on that they can hardly choose. But they do. And for a while school is fun.
Until they have three tests in the same day that they didn’t get to study for because they got home late from their field hockey game. Applications for college are due next week and they have no idea when they are going to complete them. And if they have to answer all of the even questions at the end of the chapter one more time they think they are going to spit. They begin to doubt whether or not they even want to attend to college because if what they have been doing for the past thirteen years is getting college and career ready, well then who wants to be ready?
Yet one more window closes.
We can not continue to waste this precious time. There are windows of opportunity that we must begin to capitalize on. But we must not ever forget that these windows close. Gradually. And maybe that is why we do not notice. Because the time passes so slowly.
We must begin to take advantage of each and every moment that we have with our children because windows are opening and closing as we speak. Let’s start taking advantage of them while they are still open.
Was today the last bubble bath I will ever take with my son? Probably not. But he is four and half and the number of times that we will play in the tub together is slowly shrinking.
Will my daughter continue to reach for my hand when we are walking? I sure hope so. Yet, I know there will come a time when she will not. Oh, if I only knew when that last hold was I would never let go. But I know I still have time. So for now I will hold on tight and cherish every moment with my baby-girl that I still can.
By the way, I didn’t mention that my son fell asleep today in my arms because he was crying. That was why he was taking a nap. He was crying because he was exhausted and he wanted me to carry him to the shop. I told him he was four years old and was able to walk all by himself. I didn’t give in.
Two hours later he woke up. He asked if he we were still going to the shop. I told him that we were. He was so happy! I hadn’t typed this piece yet, but I knew what I wanted to write. And then, as if he was testing me. As if he somehow knew what I had planned to put down in words.
Daddy can I get a piggy back ride?
The shop was quite a distance from our room and I knew my hands would be full on the way back with groceries.
I also knew that the window was closing.
So I bent down.
He hopped on.
And off we went.
I think I spilled half my latte on the way back.
But I was smiling all the way.
And more importantly,
so was he.