“So let them be little,
'Cause they're only that way for a while.
Give them hope, give 'em praise,
Give them love every day.
Let 'em cry, let 'em giggle,
Let them sleep in the middle,
Oh, but let them be little.” —Billy Dean
I remember the first time I heard that song on the radio and had occasion to think how true it was. My oldest granddaughter was watching “Dumbo” for the 100th time, snugly nestled between her mom and dad on their bed. I feel like it was maybe a week or two ago.
She’s celebrating her 19th birthday on March 12 and just started her fourth semester in college.
I remember being a struggling single mother wondering if I would ever survive until my daughters were old enough to feed themselves, pee in the potty, complete any assignment or task, finish a project without being nagged and hovered over, etc. etc. I know I’m guilty of saying “I can’t wait until…”
I’ve changed my mind. I can wait. The precious years go by way, way too fast. And the older I get the faster every year goes by.
These days, I look back on the stress, the mess and the hectic disorder with amazement at how endless it seemed at the time and how retrospect has made it so short-lived.
I’m luckier than many grandmothers who have to board an airplane to spend precious minutes with the next generation. Mine have grown up nearby where I’ve been able to see them just about any time I want. The minutes and hours and sometimes weekends I can spend with them have taken on new importance as I realize our “baby” is now 8 years old and the toddlers are now teenagers.
I can remember when I used to go to the mailbox in the days and weeks after Christmas, looking forward to the time the seed catalogs would start arriving in the mail and the peat pots would appear in the stores, signaling the hope of a new spring and a new opportunity to plant something and help it thrive. This year, when I opened my mailbox to a seed catalog, my response was “Already?”
To be fair, it was 10 degrees F with a coating of ice on the ground and a forecast for snow on top of that. I was more focused on making sure my Yak Tracks had a solid grip on Mother Earth than I was thinking about the arrival of gardening season. But the days between Christmas and the first frost-free date also go faster with every year.
OFF TO COLLEGE: And this is the same baby Chloe on the day she enrolled for classes as a Cowley Community College Tiger a little over a year ago, What I’d like to know is how 18 years could possibly have passed so fast.
Those little kids that I used to worry about falling down the stairs or missing a branch while climbing a tree are driving cars, going to college, earning certifications, getting involved in relationships and excitedly talking about “coding” and creating their own video games. They are cooking meals, raising chickens, training dogs, wanting a llama (or two), learning to ride English, making their own curtains, painting 3D art, performing onstage and arguing with me about the role animal agriculture plays in climate change.
I love the young adults they are becoming: their ideas, convictions, arguments and opinions.
But, oh, how I miss the littles.