The whole idea of a “Happy New Year” can be a pretty confusing concept to a child who can barely comprehend how long it is until “tomorrow,” or that ever-elusive “in a minute” – which, by the way, is always longer than an actual minute. No wonder the kids are confused.
But this year’s New Year is more exciting than most, because we are moving into a whole new decade now as the 2020s begin.
For someone like me who is old enough to remember when “The Year 2000” sounded like science fiction (OK Boomer), this is an opportunity to talk to my grandchildren about how quickly time goes by.
They won’t listen, of course.
They’ll tune me out right around the time I say something like “Christmas seems to come around faster and faster every year,” because in their experience, it takes Christmas for-ev-er to get here, and time absolutely stands still on Christmas Eve. Forget the winter solstice; any kid can tell you Dec. 24 is the longest night of the year.
So how can I make these little ones understand how precious each day, each moment really is, when they are still in the springtime of their lives, with what feels like an infinite future ahead of them?
They cannot know how it feels when you go to a website that asks for the year of your birth and you find yourself spinning the years back and back and back in that drop-down menu that whirls dates past like a gauge in a time machine.
Never mind the fact that you still think websites are magic, and you don’t really even understand what the “internet” is or how it works.
Your grandkids just take all this technology for granted. In fact, they have moved far beyond anything so archaic as a website. LOL, Granma; that’s like an encyclopedia, for goodness sake.
Actually, they wouldn’t say that; they don’t know what an encyclopedia is.
Maybe it’s not so surprising that I can’t figure out a way to communicate the passage of time to my grandchildren, because I have never really come to terms with the realization that my own children – born in the 1980s, which was just yesterday – somehow now have their own homes and jobs and a spouse and kids of their own.
And when I realize that kids whose birth years start with “20” are already out of high school and into college, well, that just defies all understanding.
Gosh, I still remember how stunned I felt when I realized my boss, my doctor, my mechanic – all those professionals whom I had respected for their wisdom and years of experience – they’re all a bunch of kids too.
So how could I, or any other grandparent, possibly make little children understand what we are still struggling to comprehend ourselves?
Well, maybe we just need to back away from the forest and focus on one little tree. One little sapling; one little child. The child we love.
“Happy New Year,” we will say. “The more time goes by, the more I love you.”
That’s a timeless message even the youngest child will understand.