John Cowan - The Last Time

Publish Date
Friday, 24 February 2017, 12:58PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan


G’dday, I’m John Cowan from the Parenting Place

I walk my dog every morning. This morning I saw a man walking up the street towards me, while his young son skipped and played in front of him on the way to school. He reminded of another man I used to see often. As he came out of his gate to go to work, his little girl would bellow “BYE!!” from the balcony. The dad would call out “Bye!” back to her, and then she would call out again, “Bye!” and he’d respond “Bye!” and so it would carry on as he walked off down the footpath. “BYE!” “Bye! “BYE!” “Bye!” back and forth. Delightful. But I haven’t seen that happen for a year or more. One morning was the last morning that happened. I wonder if the dad realised that. He probably didn’t.

The guy walking his son was getting closer to me and I thought about my own three kids. My youngest moved out not so long ago and the twenty-seven-year-long chapter of having kids at home came to a close. Over in a flash. There was a last time I walked each of them to a school. There was a last time I read a bed time story. A last time when one of them would want to hop into bed with us.  At the time those events probably seemed like chores and inconveniences. They don’t seem like that now.

So I stopped the guy and said. “Excuse me. I just wanted to say, these are the good old days. One day you’ll only have a dog to walk up the street with. Store it up.” He laughed! Then he looked serious and said. “Thank you very much.” Maybe he will remember a strange old guy with a dog. But I really hope remembers now, with his boy, before it all goes. I hope he drives these times deep into his safest store of memories, and takes pictures and writes a diary. Parenting really is the big gig. Treasure it. 

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About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

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