A while back my wife noted that passing of one of those bittersweet (more sweet than bitter) milestones of parenting. When our oldest son first attained the ability to speak, he developed a novel approach to voicing an affirmative indication. Asked if he wanted something--juice, milk, chicken nuggets, crackers, etc--he wouldn't say "Yes" or "Yup" of "Yeah" or "Okay." Instead he would respond with "Hurray." We weren't really sure where he came up with this, but it was undeniably cute and precious beyond belief.
Even more so when it wasn't expressed with the usual enthusiasm or excitement that one would expect to be associated with that word. If his first three-and-a-half years are any indication, our son is not a morning person. Most mornings he drags himself from bed, limps (often literally) into the living room, and plops down on the couch rubbing his eyes and looking like he's just come off a long weekend bender. At this point, we typically ask him if he'd like some juice to get the blood again. And he used to--in a strained, barely audible voice--croak out a "Hoo...ray." It never failed to bring a smile to our faces.
But like many things in life, this simple joy proved fleeting. And we never really appreciated how much we enjoyed it until it was gone. One day, my wife mentioned that he had stopped saying "Hooray." I hadn't noticed, but paid close attention when the next opportunity presented itself and discovered that she was right. Instead of "Hooray" he know says "Okay" or sometimes "Yes". I coaxed a "Hooray" out of him the other day for old times sake, but it seemed forced and just wasn't the same.
It was another lesson that reinforced the maxim that all parents know at heart, but find all too easy to forget in the moment: Enjoy the days while you can, because the years go by all too fast.