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Father of AHHHS: Growing Pains

Peter Pan

Lately, our three year old toddler has been waking up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain in his knees. He is at an age where he can identify the pain, tell us about it, and tell us how much it pains him. “Oh daddy, my knees, my knees, why do they keep hurting me?” he cries. It’s dreadful and all I can do to sooth him is to rub some cream on his knees and massage him until he falls back asleep. I’ve read that growing pains are common in children between the ages of 3-5 and then again between 8-12. The aching and sharp throbbing commonly occur in the legs, front of the thighs, behind the knees, and in the calves. It tends to flare up in the late afternoon and evening. By morning, the pains are gone. I remember the pains vividly from my own preteen/puberty era. I was relatively small framed when I was young, then suddenly I started to grow, all at once.  First it was my feet which suddenly grew to a size 11. For a while I was called Flipper in school and I fell over them constantly. Then my legs started to grow catching up to my feet. It was such an awkward time of my life constantly tripping over myself.  Within a short period of time I grew to be 6’ tall. I recall waking up in the night crying with aches in my legs, rubbing them and having to soak in warm baths to relieve the pain. The past few weeks, Tino has suddenly gone from climbing up on the toilet to pee, to standing and peeing over the rim! In the same week I watched him walk on the 3’ step in the swimming pool with his head held above the water, where a few weeks ago he had to swim on that step? What the heck is happening here?! I thought to myself. I have begged this child to stop growing! The reality is that of course I don’t want him to stop growing, but I want him to slow down on the “growing up”! I want my baby back.

Growth is sometimes painful. Here at Imua Family Services we are going through a different type of growing pain. For the past year we have been planning and broke grown on a new facility. A state-of-the-art Early Childhood Development Center that caters to the work we do in early intervention services and one that will allow us to grow our services and resources to the community for years to come. We have approved the blueprint, renderings and biddings for construction are complete,  we are wrapping up our Capital Campaign, we have crunched numbers to purchase furniture, and  I am excited to say the least! With change come growing pains. Our little organization has been in our current home since 1973, and in that time many things have been established, processes, procedures and protocols that while meaningful at the time, have become archaic in this new millennium. As we prepare daily for the ultimate move to our new space, I can hear people waking up in the night and screaming with what can only be described as, growing pains. It’s going to take a little massaging to make every adjustment to all that is new. But we’ll get through and be the bigger, better, stronger and more grown up version of ourselves.

My son is not the only person in our family currently going through growing pains. I myself am growing older. It’s hard for me to admit this; I have spent much of my adult life with PPS, Peter Pan Syndrome. I don’t want to lose my fun-loving, frolicking and flirty ways behind. I have persisted in maintaining my quirky, individual, and nonsensical style, resisted maturity at its best and certainly have had no intentions of every growing “old.” Lately my motto has been “50 is the new 30!” I myself  find that I wake up in the night screaming in pain, dripping from a cold sweaty realization that age will in fact catch me and that I might not always be able to think happy thoughts and flee the bedroom window in search of Never land. My son has given me a second chance at seeing life through sweet, innocent, and wildly imaginative eyes. The holidays have been the perfect example of that. His anticipation for Santa, plotting out where we will leave the cookies and milk, and speculation of where the reindeer will land, this is the stuff I live for! Now that I think about it, perhaps I work in children’s services as a way to stay connected to my own imaginative childhood? Here I am, not wanting my own son to grow up so fast afraid that I might miss a single moment of his precious fantasy-filled youth.

In the end, I have come to this conclusion; the end is not the end, in fact there is no end, only new beginnings, new opportunities for growth each day. While sometimes growth is painful, it is necessary, but growth and growing up or growing older should not now, or ever be, without dreams. It should not go without vision, without playfulness, without imagination and especially without Peter Pan. (and a little Tinker Bell too.)

Dean Wong