And by "one day" he meant "now" I think.
Obviously. We say it to ourselves with every pace and pause and sigh. We say it to our children with every plan and punishment, with every "please?" and prayer. Someday you will be old and it will be harder to run and easier to sit and please remember to ALWAYS be kind because the kinder you are in your life, the kinder life will be to you, and allllll of the things you repeat like the broken record you are.
"What's a record?"
We've been going non-stop with activities for the last two weeks, mainly because I get twitchy toward the end of summer and convince myself that if we don't live like we're young and dance like nobody's watching and love like there's no tomorrow, we will all crumple up and die.
I used to be able to handle this kind of permanent activity but that seems to be changing. I'm not twenty years old anymore. The energy that used to sustain me is starting to buckle and bend. I can't stay up as late as I used to. The circles under my eyes are harder to hide.
"Are you sure you don't want me to cut it? Just a trim before tomorrow."
"No way. I want to keep it growing and growing."
Sometimes I have to remind myself that they're watching me get old. I used to watch my parents do the same and now I catch myself adjusting my jeans so the fleshy parts don't show and think, "Shit. Should I not do that? Do I just let it ride and model complete acceptance? Do I even know how to do that correctly?"
I pluck gray hairs from my bangs against the mirror and she asks me what I'm doing.
"Well? My hair is changing color because the seasons are changing on my head and I'm not quite ready for fall."
The other day Fable wanted to know what tampons do so I told her. I told her explicitly what they were for and what they do and that someday she will use them, too and it sounds kind of scary and strange but it's actually a gift because there's this moment in time that exists to tell us that we're becoming something else. That we're aging and we have no control over the process. One day we wake up and our bodies are women. Or, you know, women adjacent.
Fable crossed her arms in front of her chest.
"What about boys?"
"Boys have to create that moment for themselves, which I think is probably pretty confusing. Not that it isn't confusing for girls, too. We just have this... well, period that marks our time and stamps our process."
Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm watching her get old, too. That I'm watching her and she's watching me and we're teaching each other to be better watchers, better learners - that watching and knowing how to handle oneself when being watched is one of those treacherous dances that all relationships must waltz. Because one of the most surreal parts of parenthood is watching your children do all of the things you didn't think they were watching you do.
"Why are you pulling your hair out of your head?"
I don't want it to keep growing and growing.
Tomorrow Fable starts TK (transitional kindergarten) which is not exactly kindergarten but not preschool either. Tomorrow she will wake up and put on her school uniform and attend school with her brother for the first time.
There were so many nerves when Archer was starting school. Preschool and then kindergarten. So many nerves when Fable started preschool two whole years ago. Not today, though, which feels weird. I feel like I should be crying and pacing and OH MY BABY IS GROWING UPing all over the house but instead I'm just really really excited for her. I'm excited for both of them.
"I can't wait for tomorrow. It's going to be the best day of my life!"
She said the same thing yesterday and the day before that and the day before that...
We've spent the last two weeks huddled around the crackling fire that is end-o-summer, knowing that this day would come, that it would burn bright and then fade away like all flings with people and moments. We took a break on Friday and went school supply shopping, filled the kids' backpacks with new pencils and pens and lunch boxes and YOU GET TO PICK OUT THREE FOLDERS EACH MAKE IT COUNT READY GO!
Fable has her first day of school outfit hanging on her closet door. It's all navy save for her ice cream cone socks and pink sparkly shoes. Archer says he doesn't care about that stuff but his backpack is full of all of the things that were on the list and it was his hands that put them there and for the last week, every time we discuss "how many days are left" his eyes go big.
"My teacher was..."
"Ms. Disney, I know, Mom."
I couldn't wait either.
Today we didn't do anything because the kids were "too tired, please stop" which was a relief because now I'm not the only old person in the house. We're all old. Of course they're tired and don't want to be dragged around town anymore. So here we sit, on the couch, with the television on and our shoes off like it's New Year's Eve. And we're all getting older and tomorrow is full of hope and opportunity we are fortunate to have, back packs full and outfits never before worn and I'm like a coach with my pep talks, broken like the record they don't even know how to draw. Be kind. Listen always. Trust all hearts. You are endless. Like an echo. Your words are stones that ripple in every direction. Choose them carefully and with thought. Are you listening? I know you're listening. Don't even bother listening because I know you can hear me.
Because they hear everything. They see everything. They know everything. They are old and tired, too -- looking to get the caps back on the markers before they dry. Because winter is as close to spring as it is to fall. Because summer is as endless as they say, tucked away like lyrics to a song that doesn't rhyme but gets into your head anyway, creeps through the buttonholes of uniforms with its up way past bedtime with sand on the pillows-ness and its misshaped sunburnt spot ways.
This morning, Archer and Fable woke me up to tell me they did everything themselves in preparation for tomorrow. Archer brushed Fable's hair for her and made them both cereal and then they "sat together and ate and talked a little bit" before getting fully dressed with shoes and socks, teeth brushed, all ready to go.
At 6:30 am.
"Today was our drill, mom! And we passed!"