Not the kid


The big snowstorm was seen coming for days.  Everyone had braced for it and started hunkering down early.  We parents at Great River School had one more thing to attend to, however.  It was my daughter’s Winter Choral Concert, scheduled to end just a few hours before the big dump was to come.  Time fell around us all as the clockwork precision of life was scheduled to stop for a moment.

When we were younger we had nothing to do,
So we’d close our eyes and spin around in circles,
Happy to hit the ground or happy to just fall down.

When we were younger we’d go down to the park
And catch all the fireflies and put them in jars.
We never knew that they’d die; we never really thought that far.

I’m not the kid you knew.
I’m not the kid you remember.

The concert opened with “Not the Kid” by Communist Daughter, a piece I’d only heard once before on the radio.  It was a statement, carefully arranged for the chorus and small rock ensemble that hammered it out with intent through the big open cafeteria with a simple stage created by a curtain.  They weren’t kids anymore, not really.  They had their own world that they defined with enthusiasm and strong, clear voices.

When we were younger we were scared of the dark,
So we closed our eyes and pulled the sheets over our head.
We didn’t want to see what’s there, like the shadows under the bed.

Now that I’m older I look back on those days.
I wish I had them back ’cause the shadows are gone,
Or at least they’re not that strong as the shadows in my head.

I’m not the kid you knew.
I’m not the kid you remember.

I went home alone, the divorced Dad’s calling in life.  I didn’t get to say much to my daughter afterwards, but I knew my kids would be with me later that weekend.

And then the snow fell.

The stark white-out blotted out my view across the park and blurred the landscape.  It dropped out of the sky and sealed me into my house, safe and warm but very alone.  By the next night, Dad’s night with the kids, the city had stopped under nearly a foot and a half of drifting blowing white that stopped time and froze us all into place.  I would not have my kids as scheduled.  Maybe the next day.

1985: there was a picture taken with my name on it,
Climbing an apple tree, with blue shoes.
You think it was me, but I could swear it was you.

I’m not the kid you knew.
I’m not the kid you remember.

By Sunday morning the roads were clear enough and the kids bounded in for the typical Sunday breakfast.  Time hadn’t stopped as I waited for them.  We sat down and ate our eggs and chatted away as we always did, telling stories about little things long past.  But there was work to do.  The kids then went out and did most of the shoveling for me, clearing careful deep trenches that gradually connected our house back up with the rest of the world.

They’re not the kids I remember.  They’re not grown yet, but the scary moments afraid of the dark have passed as have the bright summer days just being kids.

Time didn’t stop for the arrival of winter, but we all stopped for a day as the snow piled up around us.  Then life picked right back up where it left off, one day at a time adding up to years, each little conversation gradually adding up to personality and wisdom.

You’re not the kid I knew.  You’re a lot more.  I can’t possibly tell you how much I miss those moments, nor can I tell you how proud I am of what those little moments have become in you.  All I can say is that it’s good to have time stop for just a moment to understand that.