On the Horizon January 15th, 2010
Earlier this week I was leaving my gym one evening after work. On my way out the door I passed a little boy, probably about seven years old. He had dark blond hair, defined eyebrows, and slightly crooked teeth. He was bundled up, about to walk out into the cold. He was talking to his dad about his basketball game. And he was just adorable.
I rushed out the door eager to get home, not having seen IEP all day. When I walked in the door I heard IEP and GAP playing downstairs and wandered down to find them amidst a mélange of Leggos. IEP can’t yet put them together, but he can carry them, bang them, drop them, pick them up, and give them to us. And that is quite diverting enough for him.
He’d had a rough go of it at supper and GAP had opted for Leggos over bath, which was fine by me. I joined in the play for a few minutes until the eye rubs became more frequent and a yawn or two passed his lips. Then I scooped him up, nibbled on his plump cheek in just the way that makes him laugh, and carried him upstairs to get ready for bed.
Once he was tucked in and talking himself to sleep my mind drifted back to the little boy at the gym. With my sweet baby nodding off in the other room I wondered who he will be in five or six years’ time. Today he is active – not high strung, but always going. He loves our dogs. Loves to take toys away from them just to give them back. He loves spinach and hates meat. He is outgoing and flirtatious. He is a good sleeper. But what of the future?
Will he play basketball? Will he a class clown or a hard worker? Will he be an alpha on the playground? Or will he follow his friends’ leads? Will his hair stay blond, or darken with age? Will he have brothers or sisters or both? Will he like for me to read his bedtime stories, or will he want to read them himself. Will he be talkative like his mom, or reserved like his dad?
The story goes that when I was a baby my mom was holding me in her arms and said to my dad, “I wonder what she’ll look like when she’s grown.” My father aptly responded, “She’ll look like Gale.”
I think about that story, which I’ve heard dozens of times, and sometimes it helps to quell my curiosities. IEP will be just like IEP. I’ll never come home and not recognize him. I’ll never hear his voice and not relish in it. I’ll never feel his cheek against mine and not want to melt right there in that moment.
He will surprise me. He will get into trouble. He will make me laugh. He will disappoint me. He will change just a little bit every day. He will always be mine and I his – inextricably linked forever, whatever may come our way.
There are times – many times – when I want to jump ahead in this book. I want a sneak peak. A glance over the horizon. A chance to glimpse the little boy (and eventually bigger boy) that he will become. But I stop and remind myself that he will only be 13 months old for a few more days. And he will only be 14 months old for about 30 days after that.
Aidan posed this question of reading the pages of our lives a few weeks ago. And for me, along with most others, the answer is, no, I would not like to see how the story ends. But for IEP, my curiosity is stronger. I still don’t want to skip to the end of the book, but perhaps just to jump ahead a chapter or two. And were it not for the debilitating fear of missing the present I might take that chance if offered.
But as it is, that offer has not yet availed itself, and presumably will not. And for that I believe I am grateful. Time should march at its own pace. And I should table my curiosities and appreciate that pace for what it is. For I’m sure my regrets would outweigh my curiosities if I missed one moment of the now to look into the future.