Little Boys, Grown Men

Today, I have been a mother for twenty-two years.

I’ve learned so much.

And still know so little.

But Elder has been a patient son. For the most part.

He doesn’t let me count little fingers and toes anymore, but he still hugs me when he sees me and when he leaves me. He doesn’t hold my hand when we cross a parking lot anymore, but he still tells me when he makes it to a destination safely.

He doesn’t think I can solve all of life’s problems anymore, but he still thinks I can fix many of them.

Sometimes, I miss my little boy.

But then I hear my grown man laugh.

And I know my little boy is still with me.

He’s just taller.

A lot, lot taller.

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Fear of Commitment

Today, I thought I would share a story from 2001 when Elder would have been just five years old . . .

The other night, Elder asked, “Mom, do I have to get married when I grow up?”

“No, Elder, but being married is nice.”  And because he has had objections to sleeping alone lately, I added, “You won’t have to sleep alone then.”

“But I don’t want to get married!”

“Okay, Elder.”

“Mom, when I grow up, will you tell everyone that I don’t have to get married?”

. . . So, here I am, with a grown up, almost twenty-two-year-old man, and I am dutifully informing everyone

Elder doesn’t have to get married.

Just so you know.

 

Chances . . .

My boys always figured chances were never ending. Elder once even reminded me, “But Mo-om, God even gave Jonah a second chance.”

Yeah, argue that one.

Or with this one, from Younger, when he was three years old . . .

Younger enjoys bouncing on the sofa, despite my immediate protests. He usually takes a chance every week or so, just to check if I’ve changed my mind. And when I warn him with a simple and weary, “Younger,” he immediately follows with another attempt, just to check if I’m serious.

So, today, after the first admonishment and second bounce, I told him, “Younger, you do it again, and you’re in trouble.”

“Four more chances,” he bargained.

“No, you’ve got one more chance. You do it again, and you’re in trouble.”

“Four more chances,” he repeated, a clear threat to wail in his voice.

But I remained firm. “No.”

“But I want to do it four more times,” he cried.

And honesty is supposed to be an admirable trait.

Home Is . . .

When we took Younger to Rolla to register for classes, he had to participate in math placement testing and parents had to be entertained in the interim. So, current students performed skits for the waiting parents, one of which suggested we not make any big changes in the house the first semester or so. The students still needed the safety and security of home being the same when they returned.

Which had me thinking back on a recent conversation with Elder . . .

“Since you will be staying in Columbia this summer,” I approached my oldest child carefully, “I think we may move Younger into the bathroom upstairs. You would have to share it on the weekends you are home.”

And Elder, who only visited once every three weeks or so the last two semesters, looked at me and sincerely pledged, “I plan to be home a lot this summer, Mom.”

Yeah, don’t make any significant changes the first semester.

Or the first year.

Or second or third . . .

A Blessing . . . And a Curse

Can you guess what all this means?

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I’ll break it down for you.

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Sofa cushions tossed on the floor.

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Empty milk container tossed on the floor.

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Empty candy wrapper tossed on the floor.

Any guesses as to what all this means?

Yep.

I got to spend a precious weekend with my Elder.

And I have nightmares about the state of his apartment.

It’s a blessing.

And a curse.

Speak No Evil

Tonight, I am recovering slowly from a vicious cold, so I thought I would share a story from 2001. Elder would have been five and Younger would have been two and my youngest sister would have been married for a grand total of four months . . .

Elder, Younger and I traveled to Columbia last Thursday to visit Aunt A and Uncle J in their new home for the first time. We took the grand tour of the one-bedroom apartment then ordered a pizza and waited for Uncle J to make it home.

When both Uncle J and the pizza had arrived, Elder asked Aunt A, “How many kids are you going to have?”

Now, Elder expected Uncle J and Aunt A to pick up some kids at the back door of the church after the wedding ceremony. While everyone was eating cake and drinking punch, he asked me, “Will Uncle J and Aunt A bring the kids to Grandma’s now?”

Then the next weekend, when the entire family, including the newlyweds, met at Mom and Dad’s for lunch, he asked Uncle J and Aunt A, his brow wrinkled in confusion, “Where’s your kids?”

Aunt A, who must have confused me with the evil sister, asked me if I had prompted Elder’s sudden interest in her having kids as retaliation for all her questions when my husband and I first dated then married. With wide-eyed innocence, I assured her Elder was capable of manufacturing those questions on his own.

So, used to Elder’s avid interest in her producing offspring in short order, Anita answered, “Fifty. Sound good?”

Elder, standing in the middle of her living room, stretched both of his arms outward, indicating the entire small apartment. “Aunt A,” he chided. “Look at the size of this place.”

See? Quite capable of coming up with such things on his own.

And I’m not the evil sister after all.

Dad’s Way

My husband has never really been the disciplinarian of the family. He tends to follow the whatever-you-want-as-long-as-it-doesn’t-kill-you-immediately path.

A long time ago, when we were still spending summer nights at baseball fields, Elder patted my side and asked, “Hey, Mom, after the game, can we get some ice cream?”

Exhausted, I relinquished my usual role of decision-maker. “Oh, Elder, I don’t know. Ask your dad.”

Elder threw up his arms in victory, ran to Younger, and announced, “We’re getting ice cream. Mom said to ask Dad.”

And I sighed a little.

Then the other day, as soon as my husband walked in the door after work, Younger asked, “Hey, Dad, did ya bring me some soda?”

My husband shrugged off his coat. “Now, what kind of father would I be if I encouraged your bad habits?”

“So . . .” Younger tilted his head, eying his father. “Yeah?”

“It’s in the fridge,” my husband admitted.

And I sighed a little.

Or maybe a lot.

I sigh so much, it’s hard to say any more.