Time and Again

Well, Younger is officially a senior.

When my children were younger, other parents warned, “Enjoy them now. They’ll be grown before you know.”

Then when I agreed to enjoy the boys while they were young, other parents would give me that smile — a smile that was not quite condescending, perhaps a little nostalgic, maybe even regretful, always knowing. And I know when the boys were little, some days seemed longer than forever and bedtime was really the only goal of the day.

But anyone finding a five-year-old where a toddler used to stand a blink ago cannot remain blissfully ignorant of the passage of time.

So, I always knew my boys would only be little for a very short time. I would close my eyes and try to imprint into my heart the feel of their arms around my neck, the softness of their breath in my ear, the absolute trust in the relaxing of their bodies against mine.

I wrote their stories so I wouldn’t forget those everyday little moments that get lost in the past.

A long time ago, not so long ago, Younger and I used to snuggle on the sofa and watch Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer. When we lived in an apartment, I took him with me to the laundromat, and we did puzzles while our clothes spun in a washing machine.  Every week, we would do our grocery shopping, and we settled at Applebee’s for lunch where he got macaroni and cheese and a balloon.

Every year before school started, I would take him back to Applebee’s for his “last supper” and spoil him with dessert.

We have one more last supper, I guess.

I always understood that time was slipping by me too quickly. I just never figured out any possible maneuver that slowed it down — wishing, arguing, throwing tantrums, begging. Time can ignore all attempts at manipulation.

Even greedy fingers can’t grasp the sand in an hourglass.

So, Younger is a senior.

And, somehow, still my baby.

In My Dreams

I have a few weeks between semesters, so I have been power washing the house, cleaning windows, waterproofing the deck, scrubbing tile, and so on and so forth. About 2:00 yesterday afternoon, I collapsed on the sofa for a nap before tackling my laundry room.

Now and then, I roused for a moment or two as Elder paced through the house, a video playing on his cell phone, as usual. But at one point I blinked awake and realized he was listening to a math lecture.

He is on summer break.

And he was watching math.

Unless I was dreaming.

Except it was math.

So, you know, that would have been a scary, scary nightmare.

Earlier this week, we had to take Thirteen and Seven to the veterinarian, and all the men in my house made sure the two knew exactly who they should blame for the upcoming invasion of their manhood.

“Whatever happens tomorrow,” my husband murmured to them as he scratched their ears, “blame Mom.”

“I told her not to,” Younger sympathized with them, as he stroked their backs. “I’m sorry. She wouldn’t listen.”

So the two cats had to spend the night trapped in the bedroom with my husband and me and without food and water. So to keep them from sprinting for water as soon as they escaped the bedroom, I had Younger position himself outside the door.

“You ready,” I asked, bending to scoop Seven into my arms.

“Yep,” Younger said from his side of the door.

I wrapped my fingers around the door handle. “You sure?”

“Yep,” Younger repeated, brimming with confidence.

I opened the door, immediately having to wrap both arms around Seven who was wriggling frantically in my hold. But I still caught sight of the black streak hitting the stairs at about thirty miles an hour. And Younger, reacting a few seconds too late, straightening to his feet to hit the stairs at about two miles an hour.

“You had one job, Younger,” I told him as we urged the reluctant cats into the carriers. “One job.”

“Mom,” he told me, shaking his head. “I was crouched down, ready for a grounder. That cat bounced at the wrong time.”

And my morning was not yet over because I still had to answer the office manager’s simple question of “And what are the names of your fur kids?”

“Well, one is Seven.”

Her pen paused as she peered upward at me.

“Yeah,” I nodded. “Like the number.”

She filled in the name and moved to the second round of paperwork. “And the other one?”

“Uhmm, Thirteen.” And with her second look, I added, defensively, “I have math kids.”

We look like a normal family.

I think.

Sigh.

 

 

What Have We Learned Today

I am in the middle of grading first and second drafts of final essays and am not finding my family amusing at all, so I thought I would share an old story from 2005 when Younger first started his educational career . . .

Last year, at our conference with Elder’s teacher, she announced, “I have learned so much.”  But with Younger we heard stories such as when his kindergarten teacher explained that the principal would take the Good Citizen to McDonald’s, Younger told her, “Now, when you said that about McDonald’s, you re-ee-eally got my attention.”

And when another kid was apparently poking him relentlessly with a pencil, Younger announced, “Now, I’ve asked him nicely to quit, but if he don’t quit pretty quick, it ain’t gonna be so nice.”

We pray that all of his teachers will have a sense of humor.

And a lot of patience.

In the Army, Now

Today, I thought I would share a story from around 2005 when Younger would have been in kindergarten . . .

Apparently, for some unknown reason, the school personnel asked the children if their fathers were in the military, which did not appear to faze Younger in the slightest. Apparently, his dad passed Younger’s test for Army material.  But then the school asked about their mothers.

“And, Mom,” Younger told me, shaking his head and snickering.  “I just couldn’t quite even imagine it.”

My husband thinks Younger’s a real riot.

Moments

Elder had spring break last week.

So, I was able to check on him every morning. I knew where he was every day. And every night, he appeared at my bedside, lowering his head so I could kiss his blond curls.

And sometimes he would wander about halfway across the bedroom to leave then return to lower his head for another kiss.

He has almost finished his sophomore year of college and will be twenty-one in July. So, a little part of me always wonders if the current break is the last break he will spend at home.

Saturday night, as I was putting dinner away, he hollered, “Mom, come watch M*A*S*H with us.”

And so I tucked the last plate into the dishwasher and wandered into the living room to plop onto the sofa. He promptly sprawled across my lap, sending our border collie into spasms as she had to witness him receiving snuggles she believes belong only to her.

Then, Sunday, he piled his laundry and books back in his car, and he left.

Because he has a life he has to live. A life full of joy and sorrows and beautiful moments.

Because little boys grow into young men.

And moms have to let them.

 

 

The Golden Years

A new video game was released on Tuesday. The same day Younger had to return to school after a short spring break.

He started coughing last Friday. “I think I will be sick on Tuesday, Mom.” Hack, hack. “I can feel it.”

“You’re going to school on Tuesday, Younger.”

All weekend, he kept trying. “I can feel it, Mom. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sick on Tuesday.”

He went to school on Tuesday.

And Wednesday.

Because I am a good parent.

Today, as I was packing my lunch (I also returned to classes this week after spring break), I mumbled, “Not sure I feel great today.”

“Me, neither, Mom,” Younger immediately responded. “I think we should stay home today.”

Because Younger is a bad influence.

Maybe one of these days he will be the good parent.

And I can be the bad influence.

Ah, yes, the “Golden Years.”

Because feeding our children what they once dished to us is golden.