Iris turns 9 tomorrow, three months after Robyn turned 6. I checked and it has been confirmed that Cherise and I have officially hit the clinical definition of the Golden Age of Parenting. That window when the problems of the world neither seem insurmountable to the parent (“this baby will NOT STOP CRYING!”) or the kid (“I think he likes HER INSTEAD OF ME!”). As parents, we developed certain level of competence at our craft and have a confidence of who our kids are becoming and we’re pretty happy about it. They increase the rationality of their behavior to a temporary high level and it makes interactions so much better. I’m not saying challenges don’t exist, but they’re mostly manageable and I truly treasure the time I spend with them. But you can almost sense the impending shift to where they will start caring more about what their friends think than what we think. And with that comes a host of challenges and headaches…
But during this Golden Age, I sit in awe of what I watch and treat the inevitable as unimaginable. As an example, Saturday, Iris had a sleepover where they played Wizardology, made magic wands, and then watched the second Harry Potter movie. Sitting in the same room or the next room for most of the evening, I listened in as the conversations ranged from silly movies to sillier jokes to what happened to the Dumbledore from the first installment from Harry Potter. No “he said, she said”. No materialistic competitions over who owns what. No pettiness or bullying or putdowns. Now some of this may just be that Iris has a terrific core set of friends, but I’m also aware that the next phase will inevitably involve some of these challenges. Try as we might, Cherise and I can’t control the agenda for our daughters as they get older. Our only hope is that they can manage to diminish the poor influences and focus on what’s important. Unfortunately, we all tend to slip in this regard and our role as parents is to make sure it doesn’t become a destructive. The challenges of self-esteem have been horrible for so many kids that are scarred by what happens to them in junior high school or high school, some even taking their own lives. Add to that the fact that the bullying seems to start even earlier now (and yes, the internet does plenty to accelerate the damage) and I live in fear of the day that it truly affects such an independent spirit like Iris or such an earnest spirit like Robyn.
The day after the slumber party, Iris and I went for a nice walk together, stopping off at a sushi place for lunch before some frozen yogurt. Every part of our conversation was full of wonder, amusement, and/or the potential. The things we could do together. The way we were best friends. She kept calling it one of the greatest days ever. While she’s quick to use that superlative, it still makes me feel special every time. And like some nights I had in college where I was having a great time with special friends and I knew that it couldn’t last forever, I took a moment for a mental snapshot. As I stared at my beautiful daughter and her starstruck eyes in the presence of her smitten father, the words from my favorite song of all-time kept running through my head:
And I wonder when I sing along with you
If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again
I constantly sang Iris to sleep with these words as a baby, but I never imagined it as a soundtrack to what is such a beautiful moment in our lives. I’m confident our relationship will evolve in wonderful ways, but I’m forever grateful for what I have today.