Several weeks ago, the boys spent a Saturday morning pretending that the bed in Matthew’s room was a rocket ship. They built up sides for the rocket ship with pillows (using every single one in the house) and brought in toy food for the journey and had a general blast pretending to blast off. Matthew even penned a note for the door of his room:
Translation: Please ask a staff if you can come in the rocket ship. All staff will say yes.
I loved seeing their imagination, their sense of adventure, and their teamwork (a nice change from the cries of, “Mom! He won’t let me play with his train!” that we normally hear around here.) Even when the morning of space travel was over, the sign stayed on Matthew’s door for weeks. Every time I saw it, I smiled inside.
Then last night, as I was standing over the trashcan in Matthew’s room snipping the annoying little plastic brackets holding together a fat pair of new socks, I saw the rocket ship sign. It was tossed in, haphazardly. Was there some mistake?
“Matthew,” I asked, “is this your rocket ship sign in the trash in your room?”
“Oh, yeah,” he said airily. “I threw it away. I don’t need it anymore.”
He’s right, I guess; the rocket ship voyage was so six weeks ago. He’s on to other things. But part of me hurt to see it tossed away.
I fished it out and carefully removed the blue tape that had held it to his door. It will go in my file, my Mom-file of things that the boys have made. I’m not sure Matthew would understand my desire to save this piece of paper. He can’t see the preciousness of his own creation. But I can.
Sometimes I want this rocket ship of parenting to speed up, to blast me beyond the reality of my current life. But mostly, I sense how fast it’s traveling, and that makes me feel something like pain. Slow down, I want to say to the rocket ship. It’s all a blur out there. I want to savor it. But it can’t go backward, only forward.
That’s why I’m keeping this hand-written sign from an ordinary Saturday morning. It’s a frozen moment of the journey, a tangible memory of a life that may seem to drag in places but really does move at the speed of light.