Don’t “Enjoy Your Kids While They’re Young”, Enjoy Them Always
I don’t remember exactly when I first heard the expression, “Enjoy them while they’re young, they grow up so fast.” But I do know I heard it very soon once our first was born.
And often. Like this often: Every. Single. Day. Multiple. Times. A. Day.
It’s a sweet reminder coming from parents whose kids have grown, and the sentiment is really quite simple – they’d give anything to see their kids as babies, or at least younger, again. They wistfully miss that stage in life.
I get what they’re saying, but it’s not advice I like to impart as a dad. Once, I caught myself saying something similar. Roughly like, “They sure were cute when they were young.” And while that’s certainly true, I wondered what our kids were thinking when they heard it.
“You mean we’re not cute now?”
I quickly corrected myself and – before they could comment – assured them right then and there with a smile, “But of course you’re still cute now!” Our children are no longer babies, and sure I miss having a baby around. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s completely worth it.
But I also live by the belief that I firmly enjoy them now. I never want to find myself saying those words, “Enjoy them while they’re young.” It implies that the enjoyment ends when they reach a particular age. When they become teens, I plan to relish that phase of life. When they become young adults, I intend to delight in them, too. And, when they join the rest of the world into full-scale adulthood, I expect to be reveling in that stage of our kids.
So I don’t really want to trade away our children for their younger versions. That would be like me telling my parents I was fonder of them when they were younger. I like them all now, here, in the present moment. I wouldn’t change them for anything. It’s the circle of life and every part of it is special.
The latter part of that statement – they grow up so fast – never really vanishes. As I trudge on in existence, I’m now experiencing words that my parents always divulged: “Love one another, because life is short.” It’s not that I never expected to age and get older, it’s just that I never thought it would happen so fast. Right my parents are again.
So as a parent of children whose ages are single digits, and some double digits, I can affirm that, yes, they grow up so fast. But my advice is not to just enjoy them while they’re young. Enjoy them wherever they are in life.