Much to my surprise and pleasure, I totally loved Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs when I saw it yesterday with my “little brother” (I’m a Big Brother and he is 7). We saw it in 3D and while those effects were good, it wasn’t a movie that screamed a need for 3D. It was that rare animated movie that was truly clever, without trying too hard. I was totally amused, laughing, and appreciative of the extraordinary quality of its graphics and very clever script.
The other night we were in a restaurant, no kids, and we heard a little boys uproarious laughing. He was giggling while he watched a little wind-up toy jump and flip in front of his hands. His youngish parents were enjoying his pleasure and delight and I found myself equally caught up in the spirit.
But, it also created a moment of melancholy as I reflected on how so many of those childhood joys were over with my boys. Now, honestly, there are many of those so-called passages that I certainly don’t miss. First on that list is the smell of baby wipes, and everything else that went with the diaper, poop, and changing stages. For years after they were toilet trained, I’d get a whiff of those smells, out of thin air, and breathe a sigh of relief that that phase was over.
For every one of those stages that I don’t miss are those, like in the restaurant, that I actually long for. Like when my boys would reach up and grab a hold of my hand. When walking hand-in-hand was special to them, even when they were so small that their arms were stretched up to reach my hand. I contrast that with my teen now, looking down on me, as I shake my finger up at him and announce “you’re grounded.”
I keep learning this great lesson. It’s something I know, but seem to have to experience repeatedly for it to sink into my stubborn head. With kids, there’s no such thing as quality time, only quantity time.
Some people actually believe they can schedule quality time with their kids—moments when their kids will open up, reveal what’s really going on, and share. They want to schedule this time the way they schedule a business lunch. But, kids don’t work on these kinds of schedules. They open up when they’re good and ready, and it’s usually when you least expect it. This happened one weekend a couple of years ago with my younger son.