In my back yard there is a jeep. It’s one of those electric cars, that little kids drive. It’s got one of our old license plates on it, as if it’s a real car. But it doesn’t run. We should put it up on blocks. Its just a reminder now of what it was like when the kids were small. The day we bought the thing, for my daughter’s birthday, it was tan. Its had a body job since then and it’s now red. It’s a combination of two cars actually, and the red body was a spare part we got from the neighbors across the street. We combined the best parts from theirs and ours and built something new. The neighbor kids were too big for it, and their care mostly didn’t work, so the resulting car became ours, and then we brought it with us when we moved. The day we bought it my daughter was so excited, and then, probably less than a half hour after we gave it to her, I got mad because she wouldn’t share with her sister, wouldn’t let her ride in it, wouldn’t let her drive. I told her it wasn’t going to be like that, but I should have let her be selfish just for a little while. Instead I told her we would return the car, an empty threat, but she didn’t know that. She cried and said, “I don’t want you to return it,” and that still haunts me.
I feel so bad about making her feel like we were going to snatch it all back, like it would have been better not to get her anything than to set her up like that. I hated seeing that disappointment on her face. I’ve worried it would make her distrustful of happiness, even if she didn’t remember the incident, but she seems to be quite optimistic. She believes the answer can always be yes, and never hesitates to ask, so I suppose I worry for nothing. She got her learner’s permit at the earliest opportunity and then her license. She’s driving for real now.
Do I miss those days when she was young, when they were all younger? Like every other part of my life, I feel like I could have enjoyed those times more. But I like these times too. I like to see my kids grow up, I like relating to them more like equals, but I don’t look forward to the time when they are not a regular part of my life. I don’t look forward to when they become what I am to my parents.