I love being a daddy. I have always been fortunate to notice all of the details of this endeavor. The little stuff in life with my girls is not lost on me. I remember when Hailey was into Hot Wheels. My little girl cared more about her cars than almost anything in the world. They would go everywhere with her. We used to sit on the floor of the living room and play with them every night. She would get so excited when she’d get a new one, adding it to the collection before doing anything else. What I don’t remember is when she stopped playing with them. I don’t remember when she became to old or too cool to play with cars anymore. At some unknown day in the past, those cars were relegated to the land of “unplayed with” toys. We never threw them away, but we never brought them out either. I would think back to my little Hailey Hoo playing with her cars from time to time and smile a little half smile. She was so little.
Lately, Ella has started playing with the cars. Just like Hailey, she’ll line them up in rows and drive one at a time. She picks her favorites and shows everyone. Tonight Hailey was on the floor with her, playing with her old cars. You could see the glimmer in her. She would look at each car like she was reconnecting with an old friend. As she would push them around with Ella, there was a little half smile on her face, the same half smile that I get when I reminisce about the girls. She was going back to a simpler time for her. A time when there was no school drama, no emergency rooms visits, no pressure on the field. Just her and her cars. There is no doubt that this is what was going through her mind. I know that smile well.
With Ella, I am more in tune with the things she does. I am better able to realize when she is moving out of this phase or that. I will cherish the time she spends with these cars because after her, the next kids to play with them will be my grandkids. This is it. This is the last time I will be able to lay on the floor and play with Hot Wheels with my girls. Each day is a gift because, as I learned with Hailey, the end comes fast. One day it’s Hot Wheels and the next it’s Holister and Nail Polish. Once Ella moves on, there will be no reason for her to go back.
Ella is already growing up twice as fast as the other two. She wants to be like them so bad she is missing out on some of the magic of being 5. I cherish every day that she acts like a 5 year old. They are less and less with each day closer to 6.
I will read this in 20 years, a little half smile on my face as I get the cars out for my grandkids. It will seem like yesterday. You can’t stop it, but you can certainly miss it if you aren’t careful. Once these days are gone they’re gone.
Be careful, my friends.