My Children Are Getting Tall, But…

When I was a child, my mother regularly marked my height and my brother’s on the door frame in the kitchen. Every Christmas morning, we would stand against the frame in our stockinged feet, and she would use a ball point pen to draw a line over the tops of our heads. An initial would be added – P for my brother, K for me – along with the date. By the time I was 15, there were over a dozen blue lines on the door frame, telling the story of how and when we had grown. For years, the kitchen door frame was the only part of the house that never got painted.

I started to follow the same tradition with my kids when they were little, but it became one of those non-essential things that I just didn’t have the energy for. Things were difficult for me back then. My dad had died, my older son had been diagnosed with autism, I was experiencing post-partum depression after the birth of my younger son, we were trying to recover from a financial crisis – drawing lines on a wall just didn’t feature anywhere on my list of priorities.

I may not have my boys’ growth recorded all in one place, but I do have photographic proof that they were once little. Like this picture, taken seven years ago:


And now the kid who once needed a chair in order to reach the counter is big enough to ride a bike. With no training wheels.


And the one who was barely peeking over the counter is almost as tall as the fridge. Taller, if you count the pineapple on his head.


My firstborn son’s hands are bigger than mine now. I can comfortably slip my feet into his shoes, and he is less than three inches shorter than me. My younger son is catching up rapidly. He has outgrown his shoes four times in the last year, and when he falls asleep on the couch, I can no longer pick him up and carry him to his bed. He can sprint around a 300m track faster than I can.

And yet.

They are still my babies, and they always will be. When they come stumbling into the kitchen first thing in the morning, their faces puffy from sleep, I don’t see the teenagers they will one day be, I see the newborns they once were. When they are standing in front of me with tear-streaked faces or scraped knees, I still have the ability to comfort them with a gentle touch, with a kiss, with a Band-Aid sprinkled with magic dust. I can still make them laugh by acting like a goof.

When they greet me with a smile, throw their arms around me and hold on as if they are never going to let go, my heart still explodes with love.

And that is never going to change. Because even when they are taller than me, they will still be my babies.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. All photos accredited to the author.



What a Difference a Year Makes

My son doesn’t do lineups very well, and therefore we tend to avoid them wherever possible. Some would argue – completely within the realms of reason – that lining up is an essential life skill that we should expose him to more than we do. But like most parents of special needs kids, my husband and I already have enough on our plate without seeking out something to add to it.

Every year, though, we get the perfect opportunity to help him practice the skill of lining up, at the annual children’s Christmas party put on by my employers. It takes place at an indoor amusement park, and the day includes unlimited rides, gifts for the kids, and a picture with Santa. Bearing in mind that I work for a company that has 5000 employees at Head Office alone, the children’s Christmas party gets a little crowded.

Which means lineups everywhere, especially at Santa’s hangout spot.

In our first year at the Christmas party, we almost skipped the Santa picture because the line was so long, and as much as we want George to practice the skill, we have to be reasonable about it. But James would have been so disappointed to miss Santa. We didn’t want George to have a meltdown that could give him permanent negative associations with this place, but we also didn’t want James to miss out on a typical childhood experience.

In the end, we didn’t have to choose. The volunteers were more than happy to let us skip the lineup and go straight to Santa, and they have done this for us ever since. This small but very significant act of kindness is something that makes this day truly special for us.

We still have to line up for the rides, and in years gone by this has created a bit of a problem for George, but the lineups have moved just fast enough to avoid any potential explosions.

Yesterday we had the best children’s Christmas party ever. As always, we were allowed to skip the Santa line and for the first time, everyone was looking directly at the camera for the picture. Our first stop after Santa was the train ride, and from there we went around the whole place and the kids went on every single ride. There were lineups at all of them, and in some cases the wait was quite lengthy.

But George showed a kind of maturity we have not seen before, and he coped remarkably well with the crowds and the waiting. The only time he showed any kind of anxiety was during the wait for the bumper cars, which made even me feel claustrophobic.

We all had a fantastic time, made even better by the new signs of growth in George.

Sometimes time really does make a difference.