We get used to the people we live with. Everyone changes so gradually that it can be hard to notice the little differences, until we hit a sudden moment of clarity in which we are able to view these familiar humans with new eyes. This has happened to me many times. I recall the moment I suddenly looked at my sister and realized that she was an adult. There have been several times during my marriage that, out of the blue, I have suddenly looked at my wife and seen a strangely new and exciting person, rather than the customary and everyday exciting person that I live with on a daily basis. I don’t know how these moments come about, or how to bring them on intentionally, but I had one the other day with my son.
I was away, as I was for most of September, and my wife texted me this picture of him eating an apple on a field trip:
I don’t know what it was about this picture, and perhaps you readers who do not see him every second of every day will have a different perspective on how he looks here and will tell me that this is just his normal self, but to me it was like seeing an entirely new person. He looks so grown up! You see, in my mind, I guess I normally think about him looking like this:
As it turns out he does not look like that anymore. He doesn’t even look like this:
In some ways it can be disconcerting to have a new vision of a comfortable person. It is like someone stole my toddler overnight! But of course my toddler has been gone for quite some time now. It may be marginally uncomfortable for me to shed the old image of my son, but that is my own problem. It is only hard because I am behind the times. My son is now a fleece-wearing, apple-eating, brain-thinking, field trip-going, little boy. He is not a baby. He is not a toddler. And my new understanding of this can only be a good thing, because before you know it he is going to be a teenager, at which point I may have to accept that he is not a 4-year-old anymore. Although I don’t know if I can bring myself to let him be a teenager. Maybe we can compromise and he can just stay 8 forever…