Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home From The Park Too Soon

There is something incredibly bittersweet about walking your child home from school.

It struck me this morning as I made my way into work and my journey overlapped part of the route that me and Tom take every afternoon. For a second I saw myself transplanted 10 or 15 years hence looking back on our old walks home from school at a time when they’d be long behind us. And it occurred to me that this time, this experience, is very much only in the now. It isn’t going to last forever. The very nature of it – the route we take and the conversations we have – will change with each passing year until he gets too old to want to undertake the journey with me.

At the moment our route takes in the sweet shop (provided he has been a good boy at school). I buy him a little treat. Sometimes he insists that I get myself a little treat too (but only if I have been good). Sometimes we cut through the park. I ask him what he has learnt at school. Last week he told me very confidently that he had learnt how to be an artist. The felt-tip stains on his hands were testament to the truth of this.

In a few years time it won’t be sweets he’ll be after but computer game magazines. And if he answers my questions at all it will be a begrudging “long division” or “the 12 times table.”

This time we have now where everything is new and he is indefatigably enthusiastic will pass. We will find ourselves home from the park all too soon and perhaps going our separate ways.

I wonder if he will look back on these times as I undoubtedly will and find that he misses them.

Or maybe he won’t think of them at all until, like me, he has his own children to collect from school. Because, in truth, it is only now that I find myself thinking back to my own childhood journeys home from school. When my mum would collect me and my sister and we’d run out to find her waiting outside the school gates. Back in the days when we had proper winters with proper snow and we’d snowball fight and lob “accidental” snowballs at my mum’s umbrella as we trailed home behind her. When, if we had been good, we were allowed a quick trip to the sweetshop too.

Looking back on them now, those days seem to have gone by so quickly. So frighteningly quickly.

But I guess that’s the trouble when you’re a kid; you’re always home from the park too soon.

30 comments:

Nana Go-Go said...

Your boy will be far too busy with his own exciting young life to give the remotest thought to when the 'old man' walked him to and from school.....until he has children of his own....you're doing a grand job with your kids....enjoy the now and don't be worrying about what's ahead....that'll take care of itself and you'll enjoy those times too.

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: wise words from a wise woman.

Gorilla Bananas said...

That's how Nature works, man, the mummy bear could tell you. When he no longer needs you, it means you've done your job. Just be happy and let your beard grow longer.

the fly in the web said...

I bet just at the moment his enthusiasm and sheer joie de vivre must be something you look forward to every day.

Trish @ Mums Gone To... said...

Nana has said all the right things. You will find as your sons grow up that each stage has its own joys. I have happy memories of picking my son up from primary school but it's equally lovely to watch him walk down the street, having got off the bus, and share a chat in the kitchen where we chew the fat just the same.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: it's certainly growing whiter.

The fly in the web: I wish I could bottle it.

Steve said...

Trish: good to know there is life after the sweetshop.

EmmaK said...

I was thinking the same the other day. My two fight like cats and dogs but most of the time they are pretty nice. I was thinking soon they won't say 'oh mum you're so funny' and it'll be 'oh mum can you not do that John Cleese impersonation it is so embarassing' So yeah I'm really trying to treasure those strolls back from school.

Nota Bene said...

A lovely image...time moves on

Steve said...

EmmaK: yup. Watching your kids grow up is accepting your own inevitable slide from coolness into uncoolness.

Nota Bene: it certainly waits for no man.

Kelloggs Ville said...

It's a time that goes by very quickly and before you remember to appreciate it, it has gone. I've almost forgotten it myself. But whilst things change they continue to be wonderful parenting experiences throughout those changes. Enjoy what you have now and be excited about what is to come.

Tenon_Saw said...

Before long it will be time to start embarrassing your kids in public.

Wanderlust said...

My kids started walking to school on their own this year (it's all of a half-block away), but I found that bittersweet, too. I almost wish we had the long walk you do, that passes a sweet shop. I would love that.

libby said...

Memories are great..but I back them up with photos! lots of photos and videos (now being transferred to disc) so that when I am doing the ironing I can watch the kids as little ones again and revisit the past.....soppy? me? yep.

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: and I guess no-one is ever too old for a sweetshop, right?

Wanderlust: proof of the above. Thank you!

Tenon_Saw: what do you mean, start?

Libby: you're absolutely right and with the technology available these days there really is no excuse.

Katriina said...

Beautiful post.
Like you, I really savour these days of my children being small enough to be excited to see me at the school gate, and overflowing with stories of what has gone on during their day. I'm also a really soft touch when it comes to the bakery (with the delectable cinnamon buns) that's on our way home...

Clippy Mat said...

sniff!
I can't remember ever walking home from a sweetshop with MY dad!
It's the 'little' moments that make up the biggest memories.
Savour them all.
:D

Rol said...

Listen, we've had enough "proper" winters these last few years, thank byou vewry much (although last year wasn't that bad) without you wishing more on us. Even the summers are starting to seem like "proper" winters now.

Steve said...

Katriina: a bakery? Lordy, don't get him started on cream cakes! I'll be skint!

Clippy Mat: next time you're around just let me know and I'll take you to a sweetshop. We got loads around here.

Rol: by proper winters I mean like the big freeze of '63 or '81... not these namby-pamby winters we have nowadays!

Tim Atkinson said...

You've made me look upon my own struggles home from school avec pushchair, buggy board, past parked cars whose owners think the pavement is just another part of the the road and cyclists who think the same way and believe that pedalling twice as fast will somehow absolve them of their sin with something approaching affection, Steve. And for that, I thank you!

Fran said...

You're spot on. They look back and remember these times only when they themselves are parents. It's that kind of 'Oh, I SEE! That's what parents go through ..' revelation. Make the most of it. Before you know it, you'll be teaching him to drive, and won't those be happy times!!

Steve said...

Tim: glad to have been of service!

Fran: I very much doubt it. I'll have to learn myself first!

Keith said...

You know what they say. Live in the moment.

Every second alters you forever.

Steve said...

Keith: or at least until the next one...

The bike shed said...

Precious moments, made the more so by routine.
One of my chief delights is reliving the experience of fatherhood with Dylan - to do it all again, feels like a gift.

Steve said...

The Bike Shed: we sometimes forget that the routine of the now ends up being the most cherished memory later in life.

Being Me said...

Indefatiguably enthusiastic. Perfectly put.

I'm bracing for the day too. I know it will come. But I'll have countless snapshots in my mind's eye of the times spent with her. Cherish the walks and the talks.

Steve said...

Being Me:; you know what? I'm tempted to bring a camera along and do some ad hoc filming for posterity.

Being Me said...

DO IT!! Fab idea. You won't regret it.

Steve said...

Being M: roger and wilco that!