Thursday, May 2, 2013

They Can't Stay Puppies Forever

In 2008, I started staying at home with the kids. At 6'7', I have played lots of basketball and considered myself a pretty good defender. I could defend one on two no problem. With the wingspan of a condor, I felt that I was going to be OK.

I don't know about other wives but once you have had kids and they aren't totally batshit crazy, your wife will probably want another and another until she gets her fill. However, I knew that with me staying at home, adding more and more kids meant I was quickly going to be outnumbered and that most of my days would consist of defending the fast break as the only guy back on D.

After our first two, which are totally sweet kids, we thought why not have another? What could go wrong? Heidi was a sweet baby. So much unlike Adam and Sarah in just about every category. First of all, she had hair! Which for a Bernholdt baby is unheard of. My other two kids were as bald as Caillou until they were at least two. Clearly they got my family's follically challenged genes. She was tiny when she was born, the other two were monsters. We kept looking at her saying "Where is the rest of her?"

Heidi has more than made up for her differences. She is also the craziest kid we have ever had or ever will have. It's a good thing I took care of that after her because once Heidi passed the baby stage, my wife got that look in her eyes again. I said "You can still call her your baby, even though she is not." She replied "They will ALWAYS be my babies!"

What is up with them growing so fast? My son just turned eight! EIGHT! People always say it goes by so fast and they are right. I know that they can't stay puppies forever.

The other day, I was dropping him off at choir at church. I said "We are going to drop you off, so I need to park the car and go in." He says "I can go in by myself, Dad."

I wasn't ready for it. He didn't even call me Daddy. Sometimes he does but it is less frequent now.

It was the statement of independence. After all this time looking after him and making sure he isn't run over by a car in a parking lot, holding his hand everywhere we went, walking him to activities until I released him to another adult, he was asking to do it himself.

I know that they have to grow up but this is my mini-me and I can honestly say that driving away from the church that day I was a little panicked. I have a pretty overactive imagination and in today's world with all the lurkers and strangers that mean harm, I prayed that he made it safely there.

Realistically, I watched him walk into church, which is a safe place, he is greeted by an adult volunteer and he headed up to the choir room but I still had trouble letting him go. I wanted to turn the car around and get out with all the kids and confirm for myself that he had made it safe and sound.

But, what if I did that after he told me he could do it by himself? Would he feel bad? Would he be embarassed that I didn't trust him to make it on his own? It felt weird to me. I didn't turn the car around but I did call my wife. I told her that I was feeling anxious about the whole thing. I had never just "dropped him off" anywhere before.

Turns out he made it. I knew that he would. It's just that connection you feel after staying at home with him for so long; to see him changing from a baby to a toddler, then becoming a big kid is crazy. Even crazier is knowing eventually he will be a tween, then a teen, and finally an adult! Baby birds have to leave the nest to fly and I am trying to do that even though it is hard.

I am letting him experience life. I am not swooping in when he gets hurt. I know that some things he needs to figure out himself but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to allow it to happen. I miss him being a baby sometimes but looking forward to who he will become excites me more, even if he only just calls me Dad.

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