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‘They grow up fast.’

We’ve all heard this phrase or been told as new parents to enjoy our kids while they’re young.  Not sure I could relate as a new mom years ago, when the thought of 18 years until I send my newborn off to college seemed lightyears away.  That’s less than two decades.  Decades seem like forever when you’re staring at an infant.  I still had an average of 5,600 diapers to change, people.  I certainly wasn’t concerned about running out of time to bond, cuddle and enjoy the milestones.

Then he grew up.

That newborn is now 11.  My youngest son is 8.  I blinked, and they grew from miniature human beings to tiny little men who still need reminders to make their beds.  And forget about cashing in on 18 years with your children.  Singer Billy Dean recently told me that parents really get a solid 14 years with their kids.  FOURTEEN???  After that, he says kids ditch you during their teen years.  Your ‘cool’ badge gets revoked.  I did the super-easy math, which shows I have less than 3 years with my first-born before he puts me in the category of Annoying Parent.

I panicked, folks.

Three years is plenty (hardly) to cram in all the good parenting material I figured I would save for later.  Life lessons stuff, like always put 10% of your paycheck in to a savings account, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want plastered on a highway billboard and the Legendary 7 P’s I learned from my late father:   Proper, Prior, Planning, Prevents, P**s, Poor, Performance.

My dad also shared ‘There Once Was a Cave Man Named Dave’ limericks with his 3 girls.

We loved that about him.

So as we mosied through the usual mundane bedtime routine last night, my youngest, an independent soul, asked if we could ‘chat.’  I remembered Billy’s comment earlier in the day that our time with our kids is limited, and jumped at the chance to talk with my son without the promise of a candy bar to hear about his day.  It goes down in the books as one of my favorite conversations ever, partly because I wasn’t thinking about the dishes that still needed tackled or the laundry I should be folding.

Instead, I was present and accounted for.  I listened as he began to speak.

He started by mentioning that he had a SECRET.  As he slid over to make room for me in his bed, I wondered what he could be holding inside.  Maybe he’s feeling guilty because he snuck an extra cookie after dinner or fibbed about brushing his teeth?

He made me promise not to share his secret with anyone.  Not Dad.  Not his brother.  Not my girlfriends at Bunko.

I gave him my word, and he whispered:  ‘The secret is:  I love these moments, our talks.  Don’t you?  Isn’t this fun?  And I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings in the family, but these chats mean a lot to me.’

Good thing the lights were off, because my eyes were glassy from tears.  I knew he wouldn’t understand why I was emotional.  This is the same son who couldn’t for the life of him figure out why I was crying during a tv wedding of someone I hadn’t met.

‘That’s weird, mom,‘ he had told me.

I gave my boy a tight hug and the conversation eventually flowed into a pool of typical random questions, which I always find amusing.  Things like:

‘Did you have ipods when you were younger, mom?’

‘Did you go to a 1-room school, like ‘Little House on the Prairie?’

‘Could I be Blake Shelton’s neighbor when I’m older?  AND drink beer?’

‘By the way, if Blake drinks beer, will he still go to Heaven?’

‘In Heaven, could I ring Blake’s doorbell and be like, ‘Sup, bro?’

For those who are curious, my answers were no, no, maybe, I’d rather you not, I think so, and if that’s what you want to do.  Nothing too deep here.  Just a fun chat to him, but it was buying time to me.

Or taking the time. 

Something many parents, myself included, are guilty of rushing because we have chores or responsibilities or sadly, a bed, calling our name.  We get tired.  And then one day, whether it’s 14 or 18 years later, we wish we could ask for a do-over.

Just a little more time.

But life doesn’t offer do-overs.   A good reminder to carry with us always.  Be engaged with our kids.  Keep a secret.  Tell a story.

Maybe we’ll get more than 14 years.  Maybe we’ll have one of those kids who never wants to move out, but lets hope not.  *crossing fingers*  

Kids do grow up fast.  Remember how they got there.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/wakingphotolife/6668990605/”>wakingphotolife:</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a