I was innocently eating breakfast with my kids when I asked them if I could please have my pills which were out of my reach on the table. My youngest grabbed them for me, but just as I was about to get them from him, he walked the bottle backward making a voice like the one on a Spongebob Squarepants episode when his pants ran away yelling, “Freedom!!!” My oldest had mercy and quickly snatched the bottle from his hands and promptly popped the top off and fished around for a pill. My youngest wasn’t finished. He didn’t grab for it back like I expected, but began screaming that it hurt. His sounds became horrific as she scraped the bottom for a pill. I couldn’t help laughing as my daughter desperately tried to speed up the process. After she finally got it, my son made a sound as if the poor bottle had died. I almost had difficulty swallowing the pill that made the bottle suffer so.
That morning spoke to me about a couple of things: my kids’ level of content had jumped a bit from the level in the stories I’d tell them. Maybe it was from a diet of Spongebob, Star Gate Atlantis, Merlin, and episodes of Psych, etc. that did it. Maybe it was the fact that my kids are now 12, and are ready to leave behind Jane and the Dragon and Gummie Bears. Maybe it was from sibling antagonism that can sometimes push the limits into the macabre. Whatever it was, it showed me my storytelling needed to grow. The challenge was made, maybe not overtly, but the mystery of age and the passage of time was shifting. I could feel it quite dramatically. Most parents of older kids will tell you of how fast time flies and then your kids are off and married with jobs, families, and homes of their own. I think I get it from the perspective of how quickly things are changed and gone between the ages of 8-12.
At 12, I have begun to break it to my kids that they are going to have to leave the nest at some point, and that I am trying to help prepare them for it. Puberty seemed a good time for that conversation, along with many others. Equipping my kids for the next chapters of life is ever more important than nostalgia or trying to keep them caged in some period of time so that they turn out like the character in the movie Elf. That is where their eyes are looking anyway. Time moves on and so do we. Stopping time is for the dead.
My son’s pitiful depiction of a bottle having its last pill scraped out reminded me of the dual maturing happening at this stage- both mine and my kids’. I’m learning the art, through story, of keeping pace with their time and the Holy Spirit, and not forcing my kids to stay behind or forge ahead. Sometimes it takes a dramatic moment or a fight to open our eyes to the shift. For me, it was when the story struck back.