No Matter Where You Go

June 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’m driving Jack Henry to school when he realizes that time goes by fast. “I feel like it’s just the beginning of the school year,” he says. “But not, too.” His first year of middle school is flat out gone.

“It only gets worse as you get older,” I say. There is silence in the back seat as he contemplates this. I glance in the rearview and catch the worry on his face. “It’s because you get to do so much,” I back pedal, but he is no dummy. He has crossed the line from time being limitless, something to ignore, to something that is measured and marked. I think this is the first check point between childhood and the long narrowing road to adulthood. He will be twelve in a few weeks, but he is still on the bright side of that number, and given his personality, he will probably always see a little more sunlight on the world than I do.

That’s something that still awes me about the whole parenting experiment. For those of us who have no idea how parenting is done, we have to make it up each day, and it all feels like a story. Crazy fact: kids believe what you say, positive or negative. Blows my mind every time. They believe what you say about how to spend time too.  No matter where you go, there you are, my dad used to say, as a joke, but I believed it.

It is twelve days before Jack Henry turns twelve. We are on the water, in kayaks Jeff has spent hours searching for on Craigslist because time is money, after all. We are cutting across the glass of the lake, afternoon sun on our shoulders. It is maybe 8o degrees from where I sit. Sundown will be late; it’s near the solstice. A few families from around the world splash at the banks. Our friends Eric and Joaquin drift away in their canoe. My shoulders sink an inch or two. Jack Henry glides across the lake in a perfect, fast line.  Point A to Point B. No time wasted. I have been in this day many times. I have no idea what time it is.

I have noticed lately that I have lost a year or two in the last few years after my parents’ deaths. No idea where they went. I just know I was not in this part of the world for a while, and now I am back. Sometimes that makes me feel behind, but I know the time is stored for days like this, when I can stretch time. Maybe that hinge from childhood to adulthood can flip back in the other direction, and the speed of the day is up to us.

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