counting the precious minutes

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Time is a funny thing when you are a parent. At first, it is all about counting the months and recording the milestones of your baby’s development. First tooth, first steps, first words. You eagerly look out for the next phase of their growth. Once they start school, you find yourself wishing you could slow things down as they start to show signs of independence. Granted, there are some aspects of getting older that my children doggedly refuse to grasp.
 
Conor, my seven-year-old son, can construct virtual worlds online and name all of the Stormers’ rugby players, but don’t ask him to tie his shoelaces or pack away his school clothes. Erin, aged eight, knows the lyrics of all of JoJo Siwa’s hit songs, but for some reason, she has confused her cupboard with her floor, and the latter seems to be a far more convenient storage place for everything from clothes to ballet shoes and discarded squishies. But they are both asserting their independence in other ways. Bath time is no longer a shared activity, and Erin enjoys choosing and ordering her own meals when we eat out.
 
I recently walked with Conor to school, and bearing in mind the importance of encouraging independence, I resisted the urge to hold his hand as we walked through the park. Instead, I listened to him chat animatedly about the day ahead and thought about how our conversation would soon be reduced to grunts and monosyllables as my maturing boy would no doubt find it boring to share his thoughts with Mom.
 
But then I felt a small hand take mine, and for a few minutes, I relished the sweet pause in the unforgiving march of time that seems to be gaining momentum with each passing week. The respite was brief, and after a quick peck at the school gates, he was off to play with his friends without a backward glance. Now if only I could get him to tie his own shoelaces....
 
Anél Lewis is walking extra slowly to school in the mornings to make the most of this precious time – and to give Conor a few extra minutes to sort out his shoelaces.

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