Parents feel them too...
"Dad! Where's my shoes?"
My ten year old son, 7:.52 am, any given day of the week during term time. I can hear him tramping around upstairs, moving and sliding God knows what under his bed in pointless pursuit. In the hallway, at the base of the bookcase, a pair of scuffed and broken-back shoes sit neglected.
"They're where you left 'em!" I yell back.
My daughter is still in the shower. She has all the time in the world. The water has been running for fifteen minutes. Unless I now yell at her she will be there for another quarter hour. I bark out the usual request and the shower is muted. It's now 7:53.
The lunch bags are filled and zipped. I pour myself a coffee and contemplate toast. There isn't enough time to eat. I watch the clock tick over to fifty-four past the hour and feel my heartbeat notch up a gear. I check my mobile phone for any new text messages. I can't remember the last time I received a text before nine but it's something to do other than wait.
The bathroom door casually clicks open. Slippers scuffing bare wooden floors mark the leisurely progress of my first born as a prelude to the slamming of her bedroom door. Once upon a time the urgency in my voice served as a stimulant. Now it's a challenge. Let's see how high the old git's blood pressure can get. But I'm not old. Most people my age are novice parents. I've been doing this for fifteen years and I'm barely thirty-six!
The clock has now advanced to fifty-five past the hour. We should have been gone by now. A minute lost here is worth five elsewhere. Am I the only one who understands this?
Heavy footsteps as my son descends the stairs. He is not happy. The tears he strains to hold back glisten in the corners of his eyes. Somehow it is my fault. Somehow I feel guilty. This ten year old wields such power, I wonder if he is aware of this. His tears are a chisel scraping at my pulsating heart. Right now his biggest challenge is the discovery of his shoes. I can solve this problem for him. I am his dad. I am a hero! At least that is what I hope he thinks when I ask him to about face and yonder lies the solution to his puzzle.
Truth is, I don't know what he might think, or what he expects. My children want for nothing on a physical level, but it's the mental plane that derives pain. At fifty-nine minutes past the hour I resign myself to the fact that I am going to be late for work. Again!
I watch my son struggle to squeeze into his shoes, the hem of his trousers flapping inches above the laces. Before the summer holidays the two had been close acquaintances, now they had become estranged. He manages to force the left one on but struggles with the right, stomping it into the ground. All of a sudden his shoulders slump and he bursts into tears, defeated. On cue my daughter bounds down the stairs with only one word to offer in passing:
My daughter, the detonator. Sure enough my son explodes:
"I'M NOT A BABY!"
Somewhat appropriately the cuckoo clock announces the arrival of the hour, whistling eight times.
The smirk on my daughter's face is borne of sadistic satisfaction. She ignores me and grabs her packed lunch. The skirt she is wearing is far too short. Not because she has grown but due to the current trend. One more thing for me to worry about. My son needs consoling. I ask him what's wrong.
"It doesn't fit!" he complains.
I bend down and examine the shoes. They're three months old but prematurely aged. Decrepit, in fact. I look at my son's right foot. I don't have to be a cobbler to know that the two are no longer compatible. I press the toes beneath the leather and they are bunched together like a tight fist.
By now it is 8.01, I just know it is, but the present time has lost it's urgency. Kneeling there, cradling my son's shoe, it struck me that it wouldn't be long before these moments were gone. As frustrating as they were I would come to miss them. I told my son to change into trainers. I would speak with the headmaster. I pleaded with my daughter to get a move on.
I was thinking this:
They are growing in and out of things on a daily basis.
How long before they grow out of me?