Andy and I were talking and she suggested that it might be nice to post something on how kids, even at they continue to grow (and despite being intermittently mouthy, rude, entitled and impossible) actually remain cute and sweet to us parents.
When our little crawlers were still in car-seats, the big boys and girls kicking up sand at the park and racing up and down the slide represented a stark contrast between our kids (cute and adorable) and those other kids (brutal and rather advanced, maybe even talking in sentences, not always kind sentences).
Soon our kids become climbers and talkers; we coo at babies but cast the stink-eye at those kindergarten brutes with their fully developed play styles, and excluding behaviors, while our adorable little parallel players are just plain cute.
I remember when we started in kindergarten and those gianormous sixth graders seemed to tower like ruffian brutes over our little blossoms in the sheltered sandbox adjacent to their cozy class.
But by the time our children were leaving elementary school, our still-adorable (most of the time) sixth graders looked like vulnerable little children next to the deep-voiced man-boys and the developed and make-up-wearing young ladies dominating these petite cusp-of-middle schoolers about to sink or swim in a pool of full-on high schoolers.
As my older nears the end of sophomore year in high school and my younger is himself a recently-minted teenager, they really are, at least to us admittedly biased parents, essentially sweet and still cute.
It makes me happy that Nate has such sweet friends—and Andy and I are now able to see high schoolers as cute in a way that has never seemed possible back in stroller days. I suppose we saw the other teens we had crushes on as cute when we were actually in high school, but the nastiness and oppositionality of teens gets so much ink (or whatever one calls virtual bytes) that it seems worth noting the counterpoint.
When I look at Nate’s friends I see an emerging warmth, a hug here and there, authentic interest in each other, encouragement and easy humor that now grows like flowers in the rich fundament of all that middle school teasing and general anxiety-driven faux-jocular cruelty (not that they weren’t cute even then, they were).
Andy and I love that Nate’s friends represent diversity united by friendship—white, Asian, African-American and Latino blending in an easier way than when we were kids.
If you are parenting a newborn, or a toddler, or an elementary, middle or high schooler, the point of this post is to encourage you not to lament that your babies will grow up and no longer be those cute little beings they were yesterday—rather to trust that the cuteness factor has a longevity at least as enduring as we parents (and I fully trust that parents of full-on grown-ups would likely attest that their kids never really stop being adorable).
So, do not despair the march of time—just savor where your kids are (and all those you choose to care about and love) today, and trust that the cuteness doesn’t stop; in fact, the better able we become at seeing to spirit, the more the cuteness we see ever-unfolding in our children tends to generalize out to the wider world, to other people’s children (and, after all, who isn’t somebody’s child?) evolving toward an easy and appreciative love for all our collective children.