My Little Boy

Baseball season has arrived.

We’re all very excited.

Before Elder’s first game — last Saturday at a tournament — I watched him pace beside the fence bordering left field. Elder has always had to fidget in one way or another, whenever he’s bored or nervous or concentrating or eating or talking or, you know, awake.

But then he paused in front of me, his cheekbones streaked in black to help shield his eyes from the sunshine, and I smiled at him. “You’ve been touching your face.”

One corner of his mouth lifted in a grin of acknowledgment. “I know.” Then he glanced at his fingertips. “How can you tell, by my face or my hands?”

I glanced lower to his legs, just above his knees, and the four streaks of black marring the gray cotton, perfect replicas of four long fingers. “Your pants.”

“Oh.” He glanced down. “Yeah.” And he rubbed his hands against the marks. “Huh.”

Of course, he left the diamond with a lot more than four streaks of black on his pants. He always has. Never met a boy that didn’t. And despite eighteen years and seventy-four inches, he’s still my little boy.

I’ve watched him play his last game of football. And his last game of basketball.

And, now, we’re down to baseball…

And the last of stains on a uniform.

When even four black finger streaks across gray cotton are precious.

My little boy.

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