I was with my son one day last month when we stopped at the neighborhood cycle shop to pick up the shiny new bike he’d purchased for his daughter’s seventh birthday. I knew she’d love it—it was pink, her favorite princess color, and was decked out with a basket, bell, and streamers hanging from the handle bars.
As we were loading the bike in the car, a police cruiser pulled up. A young man who could have passed for a young Denzel Washington emerged, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Clearly off duty, I thought—and not unaccompanied. Out of the back seat jumped a little boy who looked to be around three or four. He spread his feet and glanced around, as though checking for any signs of the enemy. He wore a cape, helmet, and a Ninja Turtle shirt.
A wave of longing flushed through me, as I was thrown back to the days when my son was that age. He loved wearing the Superman cape my mom had made him. We played endless pretend games of him “saving” me. I was always Lois Lane (pronounced “Wois Wane”).
I couldn’t resist. I called out to the officer, “I love your little boy’s outfit. My son used to wear a Superman cape.”
He grinned at me. “Oh, he wore his Superman cape yesterday.”
Yesterday… There are times when it seems as though it were only moments ago that I was swooping my miniature Superman in my arms and inhaling his little boy smell and cradling his sticky fingers in mine.
No one warns you how fleeting your kids’ childhoods are—or if they do, you don’t get it until you’ve blinked, and your kids have grown up.
I figure this must be why the universe invented grandchildren.
But still… Some days, I really miss being Lois Lane.