The thing about children is that there are many things they have and do which can only be attributed to magic. #1 turn otherwise sensible adults into mush-brained idiots. #225 find the limits to the patience that were previously mythical only (no-one pushes your buttons faster or better than your kids). #157 turning a spick and span house into a total pit in approximately 4.2 seconds. You get the idea.
I’ve recently identified the latest special power (the fact that it’s taken me fourteen years suggest that obfuscation of their special powers is yet another special ability of children). It involves time, and the telescoping thereof. Here are a couple of practical examples. You are getting ready to go to school in the morning. It is twenty minutes until it is time to leave. The children are in their uniforms, have had their breakfasts and their lunches are made. All that is required is a teeth clean, collecting school bags, and getting in the car. Suddenly, it is ten minutes AFTER you were supposed to leave, and you are still not ready. How can that be when you have no recollection of the time passing? Of course this doesn’t just apply in the mornings, it is any time you need to go out. And each subsequent child adds an exponential amount of time distortion, so unless you carefully manage it, you get later and later. People often comment on the fact that it is amazing that I am normally early to everything, even with my six children. What they don’t know is that I start the “it’s time to leave” riff at least an hour in advance of when I ACTUALLY need to leave, and sometimes, it even works out!
Here’s another example. Today, they are six-foot tall and looking down at you. They’re rolling their eyes, not letting you wait with them when they’re meeting their girlfriends, they have girlfriends and they’re sitting important exams and deciding on universities and careers. Yesterday, when you last looked at them, they were tiny little babies. You were there when they were born for goodness’ sake, and it’s like you closed your eyes and didn’t look at them for TWO SECONDS and they went from small, helpless and needing you to tall, independent and well, still needing you, but in a totally different way! Where did all that time go? If you cast your mind back, you can dimly recall the broken sleep, the first uncertain steps, the lovely hugs and whispered conversations, the bedtime stories and songs, the first day of school, the first day of intermediate, the first day of high school. But they seem to have flown by in the blink of an eye, even though at the time, some of those days seemed so long. And can you recall those hours that disappeared while you were watching them as tiny babies? They’d lie there, cooing and gahhing, rolling from one side to the other, their little eyes widening, mouths opening and shutting, smiling and crying, and you would just watch, losing time in ever-increasing installments.
And that’s the other funny thing about kids and time. When you’re living through it, each day can take an eternity. Sometimes on a bad day, each moment is an eternity. But when you look back, all that time has telescoped the other way and it seems like it passed in a flash. Gone like yesterday’s dust. Magic powers, I’m telling you. It’s why we go on to have second (and subsequent) children – we forget what those days are like!
And the most magic thing of all? These don’t need to be your own children! If you’re a daycare teacher, or a teacher, or an aunty or uncle or friend of the family, the same time distortion fields apply. Children that you spent time with when they were tiny are suddenly adults, and frighteningly, become parents themselves.
And do you remember when you were a child and the long holidays began? Those holidays seemed to stretch out in front of you like an endless sandy beach ahead of you. Before you knew it, you’d reached the end of that figurative beach and school was starting again.
Time distortion. I’m telling you, it exists, and no matter how innocent they seem, children are the masters of it! What secret super powers have you run across with children? I’d be keen to add them to my list!