At night, for more than a week, I heard their sounds outside. Laughter mostly. Music occasionally. Fortunately, they have always been considerate about keeping the decibel level down for the old folks in the neighborhood. You know. Those of us over the age of 20.
Kids having fun
I have always loved listening to my kids enjoy themselves – when the sounds they made were high-pitched and squealing, when their 13-year old voices were in the process of cracking, and now, their laughter in a different register entirely. Frankly, they sound like men.
There is the energy of their banter with friends they’ve known all their lives, friends who are like family to them, friends who are always welcome in our home.
My older son had time to unwind. I wish my younger had caught more of a break, but it is what it is. And there was that New Year’s party through the night, as I recall – along with a night of making mischief in the snow. This weekend, my younger son is kicking up his heels, finally, and he’s certainly earned it.
Advice from the other side of 40
About a week ago, I asked for assistance from my first-born. My laptop has been sluggish and choking ever since installing new software, and I was grateful to have my kid pouring diligently through programs and options as he diagnosed issues and dealt with them.
I watched him. I listened as he explained what he was doing. I tried to absorb what he was teaching me.
I took in his concentration. I measured his ease. I observed the young man he is becoming. I didn’t feel old exactly, only older – and very tired. Then the words just slipped out. Perhaps sadly. Perhaps only simply:
Dance while you can. Don’t put it off.
He looked up at me, hesitated, then said “okay” and returned to his task. I don’t know if my words stuck, or if he understood the layers of meaning. As parents, do we never know what words or actions make the impression we intend?
Living life fully
How often do we put off what gives us pleasure? What about our restrictive inner dialog, constantly running the refrain “I can’t until” which is followed by some future accomplishment?
I can’t until the kids are in pre-school. I can’t until I have more money saved. I can’t until I get that new job. I can’t until I’ve lost 15 pounds. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.
We reach a point when we really “can’t.” What about all those false barriers to “can” that close down our lives bit by bit, sometimes for years?
On the days when I’m tired from thinking and tired from writing and tired from listening intently, on the mornings when the alarm interrupts the weightless free fall of my dreaming, on the nights when I wonder if I will ever kick the fatigue out of my system, I realize that even if the answer is no, then so be it. I will carry on with everything – to the best of my ability.
I came to parenting late. I lived my share of adventures prior to marriage. I will not say I have no regrets, but I have relatively few.
And in the meantime, I hope my sons have paid attention to my stories, and will heed my advice – knowing that I danced when I could, and didn’t put it off.