I stole a glance, hoping that he wouldn’t see. I’ve been warned often enough not to do embarrassing things.
There he was among his friends, chatting and laughing, confident.
I saw something new, something that’s been around a while but I’ve been ignoring it, pretending that it’s not there.
He’s one of the big lads now. He’s overtaken me in shoe size and checks weekly whether his latest growth spurt means that he has inched past me. (Not yet, but close, very close)
He’s not one of the little kids sitting up the front, he’s been here before, he knows the drill.
His brother too, has left the small kid days behind. He’s curating (and creating) his own style, and knows his mind so well.
“I like being in the middle” he tells me, after years of protesting his place. “Well I wouldn’t want to be the eldest and have to do everything first, and I wouldn’t want to be the youngest and get to do everything last”. Clever chap.
I look at him get taller, get more streetwise. There are hints that he’s resisting some parts of growing up, but they’re well hidden. His confidence grows, his limbs stretch.
The smallest is no longer small. She’s in big school, learning sounds and telling tales. Her 6th birthday will roll around in no time. The “younger girls” clothes section doesn’t cater for her any more. She’s five but ready to be a teenager, denim skirt, lip gloss and rollerskates part of her self-imposed uniform.
I look at the three of them chatting together (when they’re not arguing) debating which donut is the tastiest or whether that really is Ariana Grande’s new song on the radio, each has their own opinion, none of them afraid to voice it.
I look and I stretch, squinting to see my babies in these young people.
When I do look what I see is the years running away from me.
And I want to slow time and enjoy their company and not be spending all my time working or doing laundry.
To slow it all down, and drink them in.
Because I can see now that it’s finite, the amount of time they’ll spend under this roof, and I need to make myself ready for the inevitable days.
So until then, I’ll continue to steal these looks and I’ll vow to enjoy this time as much as I can (between breaking up fights and confiscating screens), because in a flash it’ll be gone.