Wait a minute. What's going on here? This can't be right.
What is happening to my brain?
Since my children were born, I have always known the goal is to raise them as best I can and then kick them out, er, I mean, set them free to live their own lives.
I never looked back, never longed for days gone by. And I never had any concerns about the possibility of suffering from empty nest syndrome.
That is why the thought that assaulted my brain like Mike Tyson battling a blind, one-armed dwarf surprised me so much.
It happened during an innocent lunch-break walk. It was a path I had taken dozens of times through a local park complete with lake and sandy beach.
Other than dodging a few cylists and the occasional doggy landmine, the walks were generally uneventful.
That is why the assault on my happy little brain was so unexpected. There were not even that many people at the park, but a lady and her young daughter caught my attention and threw me for a loop.
The lady was laughing away as her daughter, who was around three years old, was throwing sand in the air, dumping it all over herself and in general having a grand old time.
I looked over and smiled, and then all of a sudden I desperately missed my own children being that young.
Whoa. Hang on. Stop it.
That goes against my never-look-back-longingly policy. But suddenly I remembered when my oldest was around two and we took him camping and he spent an afternoon pouring dirt all over his legs. He thought it was hilarious and the dust stuck to the suntan lotion and made a mess, but the Missus and I never even considered ending his fun.
After all, we were camping and part of camping involves communing with nature, even if that means dumping nature all over yourself.
My mind then went on a whirlwind historical revision of many past camping trips and vacations where the young ones did all sorts of silly things.
Then it happened, I longed, desired and, yes, even ached for them to be that age again.
What was happening to me? What about all the sleepless nights or the boogers pouring out of their infected sinuses like water over Niagra Falls. What about messy diapers, never having a moment to yourself, rarely eating a meal when it was actually warm and having to be constantly on the move to keep up to a little one who seems to have more energy than the Hoover Dam?
For a moment, those thoughts vanished. Poof, they were gone and replaced by a longing for the silly things children say and do, the innocence of youth, the way they discover new things in the world around them.
I must admit, those were some good days – boogers and all. So what does this mean? For the first time since having children I actually longed to turn the clock back and do it all over again.
That can't be right. I am a staunch pro-empty nester with no fear of the birds flying the coup.
But even I must admit the fun far outweighed the work of having children. At least that is how my brain is choosing to remember the past.
If I force myself, I can remember Junior leaving a trail like a giant snail had crawled through my living room because his nose was running faster than a gazel on steroids. I can recall poopy diapers, waking up far too early in the morning - every morning - and all sorts of child-induced forms of parental torture. But as the years go by, the fun memories come much quicker and much easier than the not-so-fun memories.
So does this mean in a decade or so I will miss the teen years. The raging hormones, the attitude, the rebellion?
OK, let's not get carried away.
copyright 2014, Darren Handschuh