“And this will be, the one thing we remember.”
~ OK Go
My son is two-and-a-half years old. His favorite song is The One Moment, by OK Go. I have to sing it to him every night before bed, like a lullaby. If it comes on when we’re in the car, he shouts “Color Band!”—his name for them—and begins shouting out all the colors as they appear in the video.
(If you’re not familiar, you should check it out.)
He’s at a particularly loving stage in life; his current modus operandi regarding avoiding bedtime is to become particularly snuggly, demanding hugs and kisses. And not just any hugs and kisses, my son has specific ways of giving and receiving affection.
“Want chair hug,” he’ll intone.
There’s a child’s poofy chair next to his toddler-bed; it’s the perfect height to sit in and hold his hand at bedtime.
So I’ll sit in the chair, and he’ll crawl from his bed into my arms, lay his little (wittle) head down on my shoulder, and receive a “Chair Hug.” Then there are Floor Hugs (“Lay down, Daddy.”), Pick-Me-Up hugs, Bed-Hugs…
The list is seemingly endless.
(Don’t get me started on the kisses. First you’ll exchange a regular kiss goodnight, then he starts in with “Kiss forehead. Kiss ear. Kiss other ear. Kiss eye. Kiss other eye. Kiss cheek…” You get the picture.)
It’s impossible to deny. You can’t become a hard ass and say, “Bed!” in a firm voice when your snuggle-bug of a son is avoiding his slumber because of affection. It’s not like he’s asking for time with the iPad or to watch PBS Kids or something non-conducive to sleep.
Every night as we move through the routine, the thought crosses my mind, “I wish I could freeze him at this age, right here, right now.”
I want to capture everything there is about him at age two-and-a-half. The cute way he wobbles when he walks, the way he shakes his whole body when he gets excited about something… everything.
And it’s not just him; my daughter is four-and-a-half, and I have the same “Freeze! Right now, just stop growing!” thoughts about her. Every time she does something age appropriate, like the way she says “I missed you.” She makes it into a two-syllable word, miss-ed. So it sounds like “misted.” Whenever I pick her up from daycare, or when I return home from a business trip, it’s “Daddy! I miss-ted you!”
Every time she says it my heart melts; it’s so adorably wrong.
I was wondering if this attitude was healthy, when I had the opportunity to spend some time with an old acquaintance of mine, Jimmy. Like me, Jimmy is a stand-up comedian; he’s the warm-up act for the Conan O’Brien Show.
Because of our respective careers, I hadn’t seen him in nine years. That’s when I left Los Angeles to be with the woman who eventually became my wife. Whenever he would tour to the comedy club near me, I’d be off touring myself, and our paths wouldn’t cross.
He was in town, I was in town, so I dropped by the club and made my way into the green room to catch up. The topic of discussion quickly became fatherhood and parenting, as it does when you have two parents in a room. While we waxed philosophic about our daddy duties, words exited Jimmy’s mouth that made me smile.
“My son is nine,” Jimmy started, and then he paused. He got a somewhat faraway look in his eyes, as if reflecting, before continuing. “My son is nine… and I wish, I wish I could just freeze him, right now, as he is.”
Jimmy explained that his son was at a point in life where everything was just perfect. He was so wonderful, Jimmy enjoyed every moment with him, and he wanted it to go on like that forever.
As he spoke, I realized that since my daughter’s birth, I had been on a non-stop “hit the pause button!” train of thought. It wasn’t that I wanted her to remain at the beautiful age of four-and-a-half, where she said “miss-ted” instead of “missed,” I wanted her to remain a newborn at birth.
When she was just a month or two old, my daughter was gassy and had problems sleeping. I’d gather her from her crib and lay on the couch all night, letting her sleep on my chest as she farted away her bubbly tummy. I’d be completely sleep deprived, yet giggling and laughing, “I wish I could just freeze you right now, and live like this forever.”
Then she started toddling around the house, and I’d have the same thought: “Look at you, learning to walk… I wish I could freeze you right now…”
And so on.
It’s the same with my son. He has his own, unique-to-him milestones in life, and at each one my mind screams, “Just stop growing! Right now!”
Hearing Jimmy still having thoughts with his nine-year-old made me happy. Yes, these moments all disappear. They fade with time, never to be recaptured. But they’re replaced by new moments, new developments, new stages in life. And you want to grab each one and never let it go.
Fortunately, my wife is a wonderful scrapbooker.
On every birthday, she creates a year-in-review look back at our kid’s lives. Combined with these, we have digital photos, videos, and every possible documentation needed to hold on to memories, even if the child standing before us is no longer two, twelve, or twenty.
Truth is, they will forever grow, and as parents we will forever wish “If only we could freeze them, right now…”
And this will be, the one moment that matters at all.
(Got my new CD yet? No? Go buy it, yo.)