Most of the time when I look at my kids, I see the round, not-quite-baby, not-quite-big-boy that my two-year-old actually is and the newly-lanky, three and a half year old, that is my daughter. However, every now and again, looking at them is like traveling in time. Certain expressions and actions remind me of the babies they once were, while others hint at the bigger kids they will become.
This past weekend, an expression washed over my daughter's face and I found myself thinking, "Who are you?! Where's my little girl? I don't know who this big kid is but she's not my baby." Then, her expression changed and my girl was back. Later, I found myself sitting beside her bed, patting her hair while she cried. She was having a hard time waking up from her nap, but looking at her, it was so easy to imagine her as a teenager, crying over some boy who'd broken her heart.
Of course, I often see them traveling back in time as well. The other day as I was waking my son up, I could clearly imagine him as the baby he was not so long ago. He did his baby stretch and expression and it was like I was looking at him as a two-month-old again. Then, as we walked down the stairs and that cute, pudgy little toddler hand reached up to take mine, and we were in the present again. The next day, as I pulled him off the kitchen table and reminded him that we don't dance on the table, it was with horror that I saw him as a college student, minus the keg cup.
I find these glimpses through time to be partially disconcerting and partially delicious. When I see them as the babies they were it reminds me of those sweet days, which seem long gone, but which, in reality were mere moments ago. The times when I see them as older kids, or even teenagers, help prepare me for a future I'm not always sure I'm ready for.