Recently I met the two most interesting people the world. The unexpected thing is, however, they are both are my children.
My wife and I are finding this new stage of life, “empty nesting” as it is called, simply fascinating. While we knew we’d be enjoying a journey of rediscovering each other, we didn’t expect to find our newly minted adult children so fascinating. Both our son and daughter have come a long way from Legos and Barbie dolls.
I remember years ago looking at a photograph taken of our kids and realizing how much they’d physically changed over the course of a couple years. At the time our son was probably about ten, his sister a few years behind him. Looking at the picture I noticed our son was now a bit taller, his shoulders a bit more square and athletic. Sitting next to him in the photo, his sister still displayed her gusto for life with a brilliant smile, but she, too, was beginning to physically change.
These evolutions, as a parent, are almost invisible when viewed on a daily basis. So small and imperceptible, they are almost like watching blades of grass growing in your front yard. Parenting is like this as well – we are simply too close to the moment to recognize the changes going on before our eyes.
Only now, what my wife and I recognize cannot be measured with a yardstick or pencil markings on the kitchen door casement. The dramatic changes we see are now occurring in the world located between the ears and behind the eyes of our kids.
I guess this is what this next stage holds for us as parents – recognizing the changes with our kids are no longer easily identifiable from the outside. The growth and maturity is now an intellectual and mental evolution. And the separation of time and distance between us now will only accelerate our awareness of this natural progression.
After picking up our daughter at the airport earlier this month, we found ourselves sitting down for dinner at a local restaurant. While I could see she’d again changed her hairstyle and color (an ongoing evolution), there was something much different in the air about her. No longer was her focus on her cellphone or what her friends were doing nearly a thousand miles away. Instead she was leaning in to our conversations and asking very insightful questions about world events – once even beating me to the very question I was about to ask.
The same thing happened a few weeks before with her brother. For both, the scope and range of their interests has changed dramatically. The questions they asked were thoughtful and intellectually challenging. I honestly thought I was meeting a brand new person each time a conversation broke out.
Suddenly, a familiar feeling came across me. I realized I was looking at that old photograph again – only now the changes occurring were hidden behind their beautiful eyes and the time and distance now separating us. Our son and daughter are indeed new people – light years removed from Legos and Barbie dolls. And all I can say is I can’t wait to discover who we’ll meet next time.
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