Young children are powerless little monsters. They depend entirely on their parents or guardians for food, warmth, hygiene, and emotional well-being.
Yes, that can be a total hassle. But there is something so endearing, so fulfilling about providing for such a vulnerable person. When that vulnerability has left and gone, that crash-down-to-earth feeling of a parent is palpable.
The means that prove the great shift are varied.
Sometimes it’s a look in eyes. It can be behavior observed from far away.
Or maybe it’s a subtlety of speech: a sly new absence of permission- seeking can hammer it home too.
When “Legal” is More Important than “Allowed”
"I was on vacation in the Bahamas. Atlantis resort. I was in the casino at a video poker machine, and my daughter sat down at the machine next to me...drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other."
"For about a nanosecond I wanted to scold her, but then remembered that she was 20."
Wind Out of the Sails
"When I was starting to get after my son about cleaning his room, and suddenly realized I was looking up at him." -- Sixthman27
"I'm 5'2. I'll be looking up at my toddler in no time." -- Zer_0
A Profound Absence of Question Marks
"When my oldest just recently said, 'Mom, Dad, I'm moving. Here are my plans, this is who I'm moving in with, and here is how I'll handle my part of the bills.'"
"Hit me like a ton of bricks."
Handing Over the Reins
"Running through the Toronto airport trying to catch our flight that was leaving in 5 minutes. I hear 'Dad! Not that way, this way!'"
"She basically took charge from that moment on because she had a cooler head in that moment than I did."
"We made it to the plane with seconds to spare."
He’s Who’s Driving the Bus
"When he hugged me as I buckled into my airline seat -- then walked forward and entered the cockpit." -- pullin2
"Can't wait to do that. Give my mother a great big hug as a thanks for all the stress and hardship my piloting career is gonna give her when I start soon." -- tHaTwAsChEeSy
Outdoing the Master
"My boy who is 3 and a half years old fell in love with Mario kart when I play on the switch. On his 4th day of playing, he drifted." -- JT_the_Irie
"I spent my entire childhood not knowing you could drift, so he's like 15 years ahead of me."-- Sharpman76
Didn’t Even Feel the Need to Share About it
"A local news channel interviewed my 16 year old son about how he was feeling about the schools in our area closing for a month due to the pandemic. Most of the interview clips they showed in the segment were from my son, but he didn't mention it to me."
"A relative sent me a link to the story that evening and I watched it three or four times, with tears in my eyes. His answers were so articulate and mature, and he looked so grown up and comfortable in front of the camera."
"It was kind of like seeing him through someone else's eyes and realizing all of the sudden that he's a young man, not really a kid anymore."
Proof is in the Plate
"When I started plating four same sized plates of food for dinner." -- ncconch
"My daughter's nearly 2 and we're far from this stage at the moment. The other night however, we were eating a pasta bake. This girl would just not stop eating, demolished 2 portions then went on to start picking from my plate." -- Flopper2k19
Conveyed through Materials
"I was separating laundry and I couldn't tell my wife's and my daughter's underwear apart." -- theworldisaniceplace
"My daughter is 8 and my wife wears sensible, comfortable britches. This is me everytime the laundry is done and the first time it happened it was just weird emotionally for me." -- flperson
No Questions Asked
"Besides the fact that he's made me a grandmother (with help from my lovely daughter in law, obviously), there was a recent family tragedy, and they really stepped up and took charge when it was needed."
Apparently Mario Kart Milestones are Common
"When she was 5, my daughter kicked my ass in Mario Kart. Tbh, I was rusty and she had been playing for months and had gotten quite good."
"I could see in her eyes that she lost a bit of respect for me that day."
To Be Fair, She Sounds Like She Moves Fast
"When she looked at me with disdain & said "take your money back" after the tooth fairy visited. She's 7." -- Pointer_Brother
"Mine was when my twin boys about the same age tried to scam the tooth fairy. They tried to kick each others teeth out. Luckily they told me they had lost a tooth when they got the first one out." -- Ak_Lonewolf
"See, my brother and I just lied about believing in the tooth fairy as long as we could to con my parents. She just gave up a goldmine." -- CultOfWawa
A Wake Up Call that Comes with an Image
"The day I found my Unscented Lubriderm chilling on his nightstand.
"Oh. So that's now a thing." -- LittleMissWu
"I would die a little inside. My son is that age. I'm wondering when or where I will find the evidence." -- HotDem70
The Need for a Entirely New Logic
"I don't remember exactly when or what had happened, but I was talking to my wife about something the oldest did and suddenly realized that I had to start punishing him differently."
"All of the kid things (taking away toys, go to your room, etc) wouldn't phase him anymore as he was no longer caring much about those things."
You're Both Just Employees Now
"Unfortunately, that moment when my kid had to go to work during a pandemic and I got to laze at home." -- billyblue22
"Yeah, my lazy butt is home (job is closed) and my daughter, a nurse, is at work." -- Mysid
Disney Movies: Less Appropriate with Age
"When I was watching an animated Disney movie (no, I don't remember which). There was an adult joke hidden within the normal dialog. I thought it was funny, but was keeping my mouth shut."
"My daughter busted out laughing.....that was when I knew that she was no longer a baby."
"They (similar age) started fighting, but instead of the usual shit flinging or throwing punches, they started throwing actual arguments at each other."
"Like, actually making sense. And they were even replying to each other's arguments with more arguments!"
"It took like 20 seconds before they went back to sh*t flinging, but for a moment I could see the future."
Mothering an Adult
"I asked my mom this and she said it was when she had to go to the bus stop to drag my drunk ass home after I had already missed it once. Not my proudest moment."