Remember when the kids were young and things were a lot different? The garage was full of bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, fishing poles, camping equipment, and an old electric train tracks on plywood. You could not park both cars in the garage, because of all the “stuff!” Sometimes you were lucky just to get one car in the garage.
Remember when the kids were young and the back yard had scooters, balls, swing sets, and a fort you built? The backyard was a play ground; then all the grass was removed for a basketball court. You thought with all the balls hitting the shrubs, and all the animals digging (and doing other things) in the yard that you would never be able to grow plants again. And you cannot count the number of broken windows, lost items (including Easter eggs), or airborne toys stranded on the roof.
Remember when the kids were young and the kitchen was never neat? The sink was full of sticky dishes, and the garbage disposal would choke on spoons and plastic cups, and your wife never had a hot meal. The children’s glasses were old jelly jars, and the refrigerator was clogged with bottles of milk and orange juice and non-name brand soda. For ice, there were ice trays that were always left ½ empty, and the honey, jelly, and syrup jars had more on the outside than on the inside.
Remember when the kids were young and the telephone had a cord, there was no remote for the TV, and a personal computer was nonexistent? Kids spent the summer playing outside with their friends and you did not worry where they were. The phrase “I gotta go” accompanied the banging of the fists on the bathroom door, and “it’s my turn” was the call for a referee. A magazine article or the newspaper was never read in full.
Remember when the kids were young and you would have to divert attention away from the gumball, soda, and candy machine? The car windows had fingerprints and tongue licks on them all the time. The back seat was a disaster area with crayons, toys, and french fries ever-present. You would have to answer the question, "Daddy, isn't it a sin to drive 70 in a 55-mile-an-hour-zone?" A family trip became a civil war with the constant fighting in the back seat over candy, toys, and seat boundaries. Mothers were known for having eyes in the back of their head, arms longer than a basketball player, the diplomacy of a politician, and the uncanny ability to swat any kid from the front seat using the church bulletin or a book.
Remember when the kids were young and you could feed a family of six for $20? You would buy two burgers, one large fries, and one soda to be split among the four kids, and have them constantly go for refills from their one and only cup.
Remember when the kids were young and you were always out of toilet tissue, milk, and patience? Your kids lost keys, toys, and clothing. You learned to fish rubber duckies out of shower drains and toilets. Your house cooled the neighborhood, because the back door was always left open. Your pets ran wild, because the backyard gate was never closed. And you learned creative ways to explain to your children about the missing dog, hamster, cat, and gold fish.
YES, when the kids were young, things were a lot different. Now the nest is empty and the house begins to resemble order. The sink is clean, the bathrooms are not crowded, the refrigerator is full, and the phone is strangely silent, except for sale calls! The house is too quiet, too calm, too clean, and too empty. We have forgot the past aches, pains, and tears, and now remember the whens; the giggles under the covers, the butterfly and Eskimo kisses, the teddy bear hugs, the little hand to hold, the partner for blowing bubbles, the hide-and-seek in the house, the watching Saturday morning cartoons, the going to Disney movies, the reading of bedtime Bible stories, the laying down at night together, and the angelic face of a sleeping child. Oh wait! It’s now grandchildren!
-Pastor Mike Kotrla