My toddler, Leo, has reached the stage where he hates sitting still. He hates sitting still for diaper changes. He hates sittting while we put clothes on him. He hates sitting still in his car seat (which he proves by removing his footwear). He struggles and wiggles and jiggles and won't sit still until Mommy or Daddy can't take it anymore. Like the other morning, when I threw my hands up in the air and yelled, "I can't wait until you can dress yourself!"
I regretted the words immediately.
One of my stepdaughters turns 18 this week. I only met her four and a half years ago. I missed her infant and toddler years. I missed the stages where she and her mom had the bonding experiences that defined her childhood. I missed the Barney stage, the Pokemon stage, the Pocahontas stage. I missed it all. By the time I met her, she was already transforming into a Borg
. But I missed all the little girl stuff, and I'll never get it. Ever.
But I do get to watch my son grow up. I get to witness every stage. I watched him learn to walk. I'm a part of helping him learn to talk. I see him forming bonds with his mom and his sisters and his grandparents and his uncles and aunts and cousins. He throws a basketball
into one of those Little Tykes hoops, and he makes the basket with impressive regularity.
It won't be long before Leo is potty trained. And can dress himself. And talk. And fight. And mope. And drive. And love. And...
"Enjoy parenthood," a friend told me shortly before Leo was born. "Remember, the days are long, but the years are short."
Right now, Leo still counts on us for absolutely everything. He needs us around as much as he wants us around. Someday, that will change.
I can wait.
Keep up with Sun Sentinel writer Rafael Olmeda on Facebook and Twitter.