L has had the same best friend, E (for the sake of simplicity, Big-E), for five years now. They met at preschool, thus bringing our families into a closer orbit than would have otherwise naturally occurred: play-dates became dinner with both families, or even a short vacation together.
Five years, for seven-year-olds, is virtually eternity. It stretches even longer than the endless nights of childhood when we simply can’t wait until morning.
“How long until morning?” we as mom, and the resulting answer might as well be expressed in scientific notation.
So every now and then, the two families get together for an afternoon at the pool, dinner, or perhaps an afternoon at the park. The five kids have great fun together, the parents chat and take turns tag-teaming with each others’ kids (“E, slow down!” “Big-E, you interrupted her!”), and in the end, we all return home satisfied. What’s not to love about an outing that gives the kids great joy while simultaneously exhausting them?
Over the past year, though, a second connection has developed. E has been in the same preschool class as E (gosh — this is getting confusing: three kids with the initial initial “E.” Let’s just call her “Lady-E”), and when we asked E if he was excited about seeing Lady-E today, he smiled hugely and said, “Taaaaak!” (The question was posed in Polish: he’s much better about answer in the same language than L is at this point.)
So L and Big-E zoomed ahead on a scooter and bike respectively while E and Lady-E tended to hang back on their less speedy models. And I (initial for the middle child, not me) sort of hung in the middle, like a middle child would.
We saw some lovely views, including a beaver dam,
had fun pulling our vehicle when we got too tired to ride it,
and had a nice picnic to fill the bellies and stop the complaining.
E and Lady-E are now the same ages (roughly: Lady-E is about a year older) as L and Big-E were when they met. And while five years have passed in the interim, none of us could have possibly believed how quickly it would have gone. Five years for a seven-year-old — forget about it. You might as well be talking the age of the universe.
Five years for any of us? It’s a flash, a blink, a second degree, a mere half-a-decade.
It’s absolutely nothing. Indeed, for us, the passage of twenty years has become nothing. I see on social media that a twenty-year-old beauty contestant boldly wore an insulin pump with her bikini (never mind the ethics of judging someone’s worth or beauty — oh, never mind), and I think, “Twenty years. That makes it 1994. I was starting my senior year of college.”
These kids are still learning how to control their arms and legs: college seems like an impossibly distant reality for them, but for us, it will just be a blip. A few birthdays, a Christmas or two, and suddenly this child or that is packing up to head to this or that college.
I keep writing about this because it keeps becoming more and more obvious. “Hold on to these moments as they pass,” sings Adam Duritz in “Long December,” and the older I get, the more that rings true.