Other people’s children

Isaac 1“Hello, Stephen”, says the young man behind the cash register.

I must be giving him a blank look, because he adds, “You don’t remember me, do you?”

“Uh, vaguely.”

“I’m Don and Janice’s son.”

“Oh”, I say, feeling relieved. “You were just a little kid the last time I saw you.”

Feeling relieved, but also old. Nothing ages you like other people’s children.


When you meet an adult you haven’t seen for a few years, they still look basically the same. If anything, you can take perverse delight in the fact that the hair is greyer, or the bald spot or the paunch is bigger.

The passing years have not been kind to you, old chum!

Isaac 2But when you meet other people’s children after a few years have passed, there’s no upside to that moment of startled recognition.

This is Shane? This young man with the deep voice? It can’t be … he just learned to ride his bike last summer.

Oh.my.Gawd. It is Shane.

And that wasn’t last summer! It was, let me see now … never mind, let’s not go there!

He’s not smirking, is he? What does he see when he looks at me? What does that Bible verse say? — oh yeah —

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Shane has grown up. And I have grown …?

(The two photos are of my youngest son, Isaac, who has certainly changed with the passing years, but who hasn’t quite reached that stage where he’s going to make my friends feel old.)


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