Walter didn't have bus service to school this morning, so he and I traveled on the train together this morning - him to school and me to work.
Walter is a high-schooler now. George and Wilma are not too far from high school either. These kids at one time used to be small, but now they've grown. Walter now travels on the train by himself. The kids go off to sleep away camp during the summer. They are responsible around the house for chores and for doing their homework. They are growing up, doing things and taking on responsibilities that they did not and could not when they were younger. And I began to wonder:
When was the last time I said Sh'ma with them before they went to sleep? I used to do it every day, and now I don't do it with them at all. They're just too old for it. But I don't remember the very last time I did it. I'm fairly certain that the last time I did it I wasn't conscious of the fact that it would, in fact, be the last time.
When was the last time I carried them in my arms? When was the last time I changed one of their diapers? When was the last time that I handed one of them a bottle? When was the last time I read a Dr. Suess book to them?* When was the last time I fed them by hand, scooping the food onto a spoon and making airplane noises to get them to laugh and open their mouths?
Don't get me wrong... I'm not actively looking to return to those days. In many ways, I'm *glad* my kids are older now. I certainly don't want to change their diapers again. But what I regret is the fact that I can't identify the last times that I did these things. I know it seems kind of silly, but the passage of each of those events was a milestone of sorts -- only at the time I didn't know it. When I last said Sh'ma with my kids at night, I didn't know it would be the last time... I probably just assumed that I would do it again the next night or the night after. When I last fed Wilma by spoon, I didn't realize that the next time she would pick up the spoon on her own and would no longer need me to make silly noises. But yet, that very last time came and went; and I wasn't cognizant of it enough to realize that I should remember that moment as the moment that my kids grew up just a little bit more.
* Actually, I read the Hebrew version of Fox In Socks to them about two weeks ago. But it just wasn't the same as when they were younger.