Goobs of Christmas Past

“Who sings that song? Fleekwood Mac?” -a current student who inadvertently made me feel old, angry, sad, disappointed, and incredulous all at the same time

2008

2008: “I don’t know what’s happening.”

2009

2009: “NummaNummaNumma.”

2010

2010: “Can you open this, dads?”

2011

2011: “I finished my drink, let’s make with the opening presents, already.”

2012

2012: “This doesn’t look like a toy.”

2013

2013: “This isn’t for you, Abby!”

Two days ago Madison stood next to me and I placed my hand on her head. As is habit, my hand sweeps around to the back of her skull to find the irregular contours that were the result of a rough and terrifying childbirth. I always want to remember how lucky I am. I noticed something different this time. My arm didn’t have to reach so low to do it. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to Lynnette how infrequently I call Madison “Goob.” She’s just “Mad” now.

How did this happen? Is a figurative kind of rhetorical question. Literally, I know the exact answer is Time, man, but that answer doesn’t offer any comfort. In fact, it’s the worst kind of answer one can arrive at: finality that offers no closure. This will continue to happen forever – from now to when she’s disappointed that she got $25 jeans as opposed to $75 jeans to when we no longer have the taste and skill to accurately buy gifts for her to when she’s asking if whatever-his-name-is-going-to-be can come to the Christmas party to when she’s buying us gifts with her own money to when she has to “come over” to see us for Christmas – and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. As a young adult, I was vehemently averse to change. I hated it. In retrospect, it was likely the combination of few things: increasing responsibility, uncertainty, a fear of a lack of control. As a kid, you’re up for fights you can’t win, sometimes because the idea seems noble, but also possibly because you don’t completely understand how long the odds are.

When I look at these pictures, I am filled with awe. I barely remember the girl in the first three pictures. The changes in her physical appearance in those first three years is ridiculous. Then by year four she more or less looks like my Madison, and in the last two she’s basically who she’s been in my memory. I wonder…what will happen to this version of Madison in 5 years? Will she fall away in my memory too? Will she be replaced by recency bias and a pre-teen Madison 11.0? I’m reminded that finding out is going to be the best adventure I’ll ever undertake. 22-year old Phil wants to fight me right now. It’s okay, kid. Give it time.

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