By Karen Galarpe

Over lunch today, at the despedida for my uncle set to leave for the US for good, my aunt told me stories about her grandchildren. One is already in college, and will be in his junior year in his IT course this June.

“What? He’s in college already?!” I exclaimed. The last time I saw him, he was maybe in grade 1, having so much fun at a swimming party.

Well, what should I expect? My son was only 4 or 5 when we went to that same swimming party. And he will be 16 next month.

Time flies, you’ve heard that before, but I say time flies faster, it seems, when kids are involved. The little kid you used to bring to prep class may have just attended prom last month, or is excited now to embark on college life in June.

My brother used to tell me to enjoy every bit of my son’s growing up years because kids don’t remain kids long.

A few years ago, when I taught a writing course at a college nearby, I gave my students, mostly college seniors, a finals exam I deemed would be easy for them: Write an essay about the life lesssons you learned using the writing techniques you learned in class. “Write from the heart,” I told them.

Soon, someone was sniffling. Someone was crying. As they poured out their thoughts on paper, it was as if a wealth of emotions bottled up inside got freed.

Most of my students then were children of overseas Filipino workers, and many of them had one question it seems, for their parents: “Where were you… when someone made fun of me in grade school? … when the dentist pulled my tooth? … when I got sick of dengue and needed to be hospitalized? … when I had graduated with honors and needed you to pin a medal on me? … when I first became a teen? … when I had my circumcision? …when I needed a hug?” One asked, “Why didn’t you say goodbye when you left when I was 4? Why have you not come back at all?”

Tough questions.

Kids don’t stay kids long. Love them, enjoy them, hug them, be with them.

Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash