“Those are no longer the hands of a child”
That’s what I thought to myself a couple of days ago while eating dinner at a restaurant with my wife and daughter. The thought really struck me in a way that rarely happens. She was wearing a new ring that she’d been given by a friend and I was complimenting her that she looked nice wearing it. Out of the blue, it dawned on me that the hands I was looking at could easily belong to a 25-year-old woman and not to my 14-year-old ‘little’ girl.
It seems not so long ago that she could barely wrap those fingers around mine; that Play Doh covered those hands on a regular basis; that those hands were just learning to hold and write with a crayon. Now those hands hold paint brushes and cameras to create amazing works of art. Now those hands hold on to her little brother to keep him safe as they cross the street. Now those fingers fly across a phone screen as she communicates with her friends; across a computer keyboard as she does her homework.
Her hands are obviously much bigger now than they were when she was a young child, but as I looked at her hands, it was more than just their size that made them the hands of a woman. I don’t know that I can really explain it, but it was something about the way she held them, used them as she talked, and let them rest on the table as she listened. Maybe it’s that her finger nails are neatly covered with nail polish more often than not lately. She’s my oldest child so this realization was a new experience for me, and not one that I was really ready for. Of course I know that she’s growing older and will be soon wanting to distance herself from me, but this was, for me, a very visible reminder of that fact.
It was at once, amazing and terrifying.
What sorts of adventures, trials, tenderness, and pain would those hands experience in the coming years? Who else would have the privilege of holding those hands as I have so many times in the past 14 years? What sort of art will those hands create? Would I ever find out about the majority of those experiences? Probably not. Hopefully I’ll come to know of the important ones. Only time will tell.
Soon those hands will grasp the steering wheel of a car as she learns to drive. Soon enough, they’ll be filling out college application forms and apartment lease rental agreements. Some day, if she’s as lucky as I’ve been, her hand will wear a ring symbolizing the bond she’s created with another human being. Some day, if she’s lucky, her hands will cradle her own child’s body, wipe away her own child’s tears, and do all the other things that a parent’s hands must do.
Some day, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to hold her hands once they’ve started to become worn and wrinkled.