There is this certain window of time in a child's life where they are teetering between being BIG and being little. There are no exact dates or specific times when this happens, and I guess the window of time is different for each child. For a certain period of time, kids start ditching toys more than they play with them. They choose "real shows" over cartoons. They say witty things. They start gaining an understanding of more "grown up" situations. They prefer friends over parents. They "act cool" more often. They snuggle and hug less. But then, sometimes.....sometimes, kids passing through this window of time will still climb up in your lap without warning. They will cry crocodile tears when they skin their knee. They will sing silly songs and make funny faces. Kids this age will still believe in magic. Carter, who is 8, is right smack dab in the middle of this window of time. Sometimes..... I watch him and see him as my little boy, while at other times, he seems so grown up and big.
I spent the day with Carter today and he was both big and little today. He had an appointment with a speech therapist and an ENT doctor. While we sat in the Children's Hospital waiting room, I watched the toddlers wander away from their moms. I watched as the preschool kids become bored and whiney, and the babies were crying out in frustration. The other kids there all seemed so little, and Carter appeared so big. He was sitting quietly and patiently waiting for his name to be called. Carter sometimes has a bit of a nasal quality to his speech, so his appointment today was to check and make sure he didn't have a hole in the pallet in the roof of his mouth where air could be escaping. To check for this, the doctor used a video scope and ran it down Carter's nose into the back of his mouth and throat. To me, he suddenly looked so little under the big lights and fancy machines that the doctor was using. Although he sat very still and did everything the doctor wanted him to do, and wasn't in pain, I had the urge to go grab up my little boy and hold him in my lap.
After the procedure was over, the nurses joked with Carter about boogers and nose hairs. Finding a great deal of humor in this, Carter suddenly seemed big again.
We walked out of the procedure area into the hospital atrium, which was all decked out for the upcoming Christmas season. Trees were decorated, lights were up, and Santa sat in the corner ready for the next child to climb up in his lap. Some hospital volunteers saw us exit the office and encouraged Carter to come see Santa.
Carter's eyes lit up. Without hesitation, he climbed right up in Santa's lap and started talking to him. He and Santa talked quietly and as he was stepping away, Santa gave Carter a stuffed Teddy Bear. If Carter had already passed through the window of time where he was no longer little, then he would've tossed the bear aside and would have been offended by such a babyish gift......but he didn't do that. No, he held the bear tight as he walked out of the hospital. He grinned from ear to ear and seemed so proud of his new treasure. He seemed so little holding onto that Teddy bear.
The drive back home took over an hour. All the way home, Carter and I talked and sang the songs on the radio. We talked about how awesome he was going to be next year at catcher in baseball. We discussed what a rip off GameStop's video 'buy back' policy is. We wondered how his classmates made it in school today without him. We talked about basketball and my upcoming marathon. We talked nonstop about all kinds of things. He seemed so big as we talked together.
the car got silent.
I looked back and saw this......
And he was instantly little again.
So little that I had to resist the urge to pull over and kiss his little sleeping cheek. So little that I had a hard time driving because I wanted to just look at him. So little that it literally hurt my heart because I became so aware of the fleeting moment.
He was so
Just for a moment.
The moment passed when we pulled into our parking space..... as will all of these little moments.
He will eventually pass through the window of time where he never seems little anymore.
But, for now.....
He still seems little.....