Ten Toddler Things I Miss as My Son Turns 21

toddler aaron v.3

On December 07, 2013, my son Aaron turned 21. He lives here, while he sorts out his return to college. I see him nearly every day, depending on his work schedule. He’s good company, as a young adult. As Aaron closes in on his majority, I keep thinking back to that moment under the warmer in the OR (he was a Caesarean baby) when he grabbed my finger for the first time.

When one’s baby has not slept well for three days straight, it might be difficult to parse these things out, but remember these as you scream in sleep-deprived frustration and heave a dog bone through the drywall.

  • Unalloyed Joy.  Little ones are gleeful. They live their joy. Whether banging wooden pegs into a workbench with a toy hammer, ‘helping’  to knead the bread, or learning to smack a tennis ball, there is no joy like toddler joy.
  • Wonder.  Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi titled a book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. He speaks of the need to always view the world through a beginner’s mind, to find awe and wonder in everything, to see the world as if for the first time. Like a child. The best way to be reminded to see the world as a child? Let your mind and your toddler’s mind be as one.
  • Connections.  You will never be so completely connected to another human in your life as you are to your little one. Totally dependent on you, you are shocked to find that you are equally dependent on them. When you were fourteen and Mary Ann Ginger broke your heart, you knew your heart would never ache so acutely again. Wrong. The first time your toddler needs a few stitches, or comes home crying from pre-school because someone said something mean to them brings it home;  it is like comparing the size of atoms to the size of our Sun.
  • Mastery.  Watching one’s child gain mastery over the toddler world might be the greatest feeling in the world. When your child rolls over for the first time, or pulls themselves upright, or rolls a ball to Daddy, you are completely and totally convinced that no kid in the history of the world has ever done this feat with such dash and elan. And you’d be right.


I miss a lot of things about toddler Aaron.

  1. I miss carrying a sleeping Aaron in from the car.
  2. I miss singing lullabies.
  3. I miss standing in his bedroom doorway as I listen to toddler snorts and snores.
  4. I miss “go-to-sleep” CDs. Aaron had a favorite CD – new age music playing over gurgling mountain streams and rainstorms. I still listen to it.
  5. I miss holding him in the rocker at two a.m. with moonlight streaming in the window.
  6. I miss being online with him in the middle of the night, sitting at my computer in the blue light, a baby on my shoulder, one of his feet often finding its way into the breast pocket of my bathrobe.
  7. I miss naptime, and falling asleep with a little one on my chest.
  8. I miss our secret handshake.
  9. I miss pulling him in the babyjogger behind my bike and hearing his  squeaky two year old voice shout “Faster, Daddy! Me want to go faster!”
  10. I miss knowing that as long as everything is good with Aaron, everything is as good as it gets.


What are you going to miss as your child grows up? Share it in the comments. Thanks.


The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/


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  1. Beautiful piece, David. I had to share it on FB especially to remind myself to treasure every moment with my near 21-mo-old daughter despite all the stress, anxiety and tantrums

    • David Stanley says:

      Thank-you, Lorne. Those tantrums, ai-yi-yi. As the kid got older, several broken tennis racquets were the result.

  2. Brad the Dad says:

    Incredible piece. Wonder and Connections really stand out for me. I love the wonder thing and often think about the beginner’s mind we’re given to mold. Their reality is what we tell them. It’s pretty amazing. And the connection part I get a lot. I have very deep connections with my wife and mom specifically, and yet the ones I have with my sons… just something different. That next level connection thing. The “I had a hand in creating you” part.

    Enjoyed this one of yours. Loved the feeling through/of your words.

    What am I going to miss as my boys grow up? This. Now. I wanted to destroy them at dinner tonight, but how many times did I do the same thing as a kid? Dinner was BORING. “Can we get this over with by me eating no vegetables and then I can go back to playing with no bath after you give me a treat? Is that… is that not okay?”


    • David Stanley says:

      Brad- When Aaron was just a few days old,I asked an older friend about the connection part. his response “We chose our wife. We made the kid.”

  3. Oren says:

    Sounds like it’s time for you to start wearing a “When are you going to make me a grandpa” t-shirt!

    (I saw that t-shirt in Goodwill, and I didn’t buy it. And I will regret it forever.)

  4. Sori says:

    Reading this after putting my 6 wk old back to sleep who was born on Aarons birthday. Thank you for sharing. Excuse me while I grab the kleenex.

  5. This is such a great reminder! Mine is turning 4 and there are lots of things I already miss. It’s true that the days are long but the years fly by.

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