Gift of a 7-Year Old
He reached for my hand as we approached the street – something he’s done since his miniature hands held my finger only minutes into his time on this Earth. There were no cars coming from either direction. It was safe. But he held on anyway.
Earlier, when we were boating south on a glorious Florida spring day and I let him drive for a few minutes, he looked at me with appreciation, love, and pure joy. For a few minutes, without looking at me, he did wear a serious face while I videoed his masterful navigation skills. He told me later he knew I was recording him and he wanted to show me that he was a good boat driver.
Later, we played in the pool for nearly an hour. First we dove for a toy torpedo, over and over again. Then we broke record after record for how far we could swim underwater with him hanging on my back. We ended by tossing an old lacrosse ball back and forth to each other.
No less than 3 times yesterday, he said “I love you Dada.”
Our bike ride on the Jungle Trail the other day was nonstop talk about anything that came up in his exploding mind – manatees, mangroves, alligators, construction projects and the workers, and riding with no hands.
As I read him The House on a Cliff last night, the 2nd of the many Hardy Boys books, he listened intently until my own eyes were so tired he let me close the book and we both fell asleep.
Bo is our youngest and he is 7. He’s a beautiful boy.
In contrast, only a few yards away, I’ve noted the activities of a few teenage boys and girls by the pool here in Vero Beach these past few days. They are in their own worlds, as they should be, clearly in the process of “individuating” from their parents. Totally normal. But I do worry that not one of them wasn’t buried in their phone, making endless scrolling or gaming gestures with their thumbs and fingers, oblivious to the real world and immense beauty right in front of them. Without technology, when concerned parents or grandparents decide they’ve had enough, they too often looked unsure of how to spend their time. No books to be seen. No horseplay in the pool or the ocean. Inevitably, they soon leave the sunny day only to disappear back into their nearby condos.
Of course, we have two teenage daughters ourselves, we know the drill and the incredible pull they experience to be constantly connected. Maybe we know it better than most. And maybe it all works out in the long run. In the 70s and 80s, we thought we watched too much TV… and look how terrific all of us Gen Xers have turned out 😬
What I do know is that my heart warms when I think about how lucky I am to experience such wonder, curiosity, happiness, and glee through the eyes of a 7-year old each day. Unlike when the girls were this age, and I was younger and far more susceptible to work and life stress, I didn’t know how fast it would pass. Now that I know, I hang onto the moments. And when you are present, as I think I am these days more than I’ve been since I was 7 myself, you realize there are so many of these moments. Lately, I take not one of them for granted.
It also reminds me that the moments I share with Maggie, the girls, my friends, and people I work with are just as special, just as unique, and yes, just as fleeting. Day 492 since my last drink… grateful indeed.