A Letter to My Future Grown Up Son About His Childhood

(Written Summer of 2016)I was watching you a few weeks ago.

We were over at Nini and Grampa’s house.  It was a Sunday during the summer, so of course we were over there.  We started a family tradition of “Swimmin Sundays” just around the time when you were born. There are 15 of us there every week- 8 adults and 7 kids.19601173_10213962686326377_2011402534603789960_n 19059726_10213707335862775_2624973211003884088_n

This day gives the adults a chance to float around in the pool and pretend they are relaxing.  In reality, we may relax for a total of five minutes.  The rest of the time is spent applying sunscreen, fetching pool toys, breaking up squabbles, preparing snacks, and making sure the kids do not drown. Despite that, it sure is fun to laugh with my siblings and their spouses.  And on the really special days, I might challenge your Uncle David to a handstand contest or watch your Auntie Wendy do a grown-woman cannon ball.

But I would bet, this home and this pool are also the stage for some of your fondest childhood memories.  While I was watching you a few weeks ago, I imagined you as a grown man- much taller than me.  You may have some children of your own, but you are certainly not a child any longer.  And I thought to myself that even years from now, I would guess that when you feel that familiar warmth on your skin on some summer day, you may be transported right back to this minute.  Right back to these days.  And you will smile to yourself.

But I am afraid with time, the memory will fade a bit.  The colors won’t be as bright in your mind and you may forget some details. And since you are four (almost 5, I know, I know!), you can’t write this all down.

So Future Grown Up Son, let me tell you about your childhood:

Let’s start with your body.  Look down at your hands right now.  I am sure they have calloused a bit over time.  Maybe you have on a wedding ring.  Maybe even a few wrinkles.  But not right now, my sweet boy.  Your hands are small and usually carrying treasures.  These days, it is your beloved Paw Patrol action figures.  You raise them high in the sky, making the best sound effects you can muster.  You reach those hands out to share a snack with me saying, “You’ll like it mama.  Just try it,” just so you can do something “togeder”.  You use those hands and arms to give out the tightest and most sincere hugs.    It feels like you would use them would wrap everyone you love close to you if you could.hands

And your belly?  You still have that little kid belly that sort of sticks out.  You have always been thin, but I think “kid bellies” are God’s way of letting the baby years last just a little bit longer.  I am sure now as a big strong man, it looks a lot different (well I guess that depends how many times you have gone to the gym in the last twenty years!).  But for now, it still reminds me of when you were waddling across the floor with newly learned steps.
Your little legs are strong.  A little bony in places still, but strong enough to run fast and do some pretty “unique” dance moves.  You climb up rocks and take twice as long to walk down a sidewalk because you prefer to walk on the small ledge next to it instead.  You use them to kick your way across the pool (you just learned how to do it on your own this summer!).  You are using them to learn to kick a soccer ball.  Your legs are not fully coordinated, but that doesn’t slow you down.  You run to catch up with your friends, challenge yourself to climb up higher on the playground, and shuffle them across the sand to run out to the waves.  But every once in a while, I will pick you up and you will still wrap them around my middle and lay your head on my shoulder like when you were small.  I love those little legs.
Your face is smooth.  It is tan right now because of long summer days spent out in the sunshine.  Your eyes have a lightness in them. There hasn’t been anything yet that has caused them to dim with that familiar heaviness that some adults reflect in their eyes. You still have baby teeth.  When you smile, I can see most of them because you have the biggest smile.  I usually see it best when you see me after school or when you learn we are going to have a fun outing later in the day.
Now, let’s talk about your mind.  The other day you asked me, “Why don’t we go up to outer space?” You asked it not from a global perspective like “Why haven’t we figured out how to travel to space yet?”  It was more in a personal sense.  It was almost as if you were saying, “Why haven’t we gone to the grocery store lately?” or “Why don’t we take trips to the dessert like my friends?”  I think there is a box that most adults settle into when they grow up.  The box is filled with all the acceptable things- the good manners, the realistic goals, the questions with clear answers, and the predictable paths. But you just haven’t closed the lid on your box yet.  I love watching the way your mind works.

 I know someday, this will all be different.  You will be grown, my son.  But for now, I am so privileged to watch you during these first few years of your life.  I get to smile when you ask if you can marry your sister.  I get to give your boo boos “magical mommy kisses” and dry your earnest tears.  I just love watching you simply being a kid.  And I love seeing the world again through your eyes.

I would bet that some of these memories will fade when you grow up.  Sadly, they have for me. When I am very still and quiet, sometimes I can remember the feeling of the blades of grass under my feet in the park on a summer night. Sometimes I can remember barely being able to keep my eyelids open on the way home from Disneyland.  Sometimes I can remember laughing more easily and asking more honest questions.

Sometimes I remember what it feels like to be a child.

But most days, I don’t think about that.  I think about what bills need to be paid, what rooms need to be cleaned, and what kid needs to be picked up from school.  I think about heavy things like the state of the world and about the heartaches I have watched in lives of people I love.  And son, you will think about those things one day too.

But not today.

Today, I hope you just get to be a kid.  I hope you use those hands to find treasures, those legs to run fast, your eyes to see the best in the world, and your mind to imagine wildly. I hope you take a moment to really feel the sun on your skin.  And for my sake, I really hope that baby belly sticks around for just a little while longer.

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I love you always, my son.
Love, Mama

1 Comment

1 Comment on A Letter to My Future Grown Up Son About His Childhood

  1. Mikki Volz says:

    Oh my, I love this letter to Jack so much, Bonnie! I , of course, am crying right now. I was just telling Dad this morning how much I treasure this season of Swimmin Sundays with all our kids and precious little grandchildren. One day, they will be cool big kids and perhaps busyness and responsibilities will cause these special summer Sundays to diminish.. But not this Sunday. This Sunday we get to treasure all those little hands, legs, bellies and giggles. Childhood is so fleeting! You have such a beautiful heart to see and cherish these tender times with Jack and now Ivy too. I love you, my sweet daughter. I am so glad God sent you to me💗

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