As we got out of the car and made our way across the busy parking lot for back-to-school shopping, my 7-year-old son reached for my hand to hold it. I got a little choked up. Hand-holding is a rare occurrence these days—not unheard of, but it’s usually in large crowded venues or unfamiliar places. It really gets my attention when it happens. He let go when the sliding glass doors opened, and he ran in to look at the backpacks at the front of the store.
I smiled. A gift I have given myself at this point of life is really counting and appreciating my blessings. I sometimes think I waited too long to start having kids (my first at 32), but now I think I did it right on time, since I’m better equipped to relax and savor things.
There are still remnants of little boy left in him, and I’m trying to cherish that now because so much is changing. He has matured a lot. There is a big difference between now and this time last year. He is getting into electronics. The depths of his conversations are becoming deeper as he is starting to see the world around him and ask questions.
I know he’s growing up, so I’m holding on to the little things, like how he hugs my waist when he comes up to me when he really wants something, or how, when he addresses me to tell me anything I ever wanted to know about Minecraft, he still calls me “Mommy.” And how he’s still okay about taking a bubble bath with his little brother, though he gets out much sooner now.
At the store, he was able to calmly help me pick out his school supplies and follow the list. No charging up and down the aisles, weaving in and out of the other shoppers and their carts, though he did hide from me in a clothing rack for old time’s sake. He was calm and reasonable when I said no to a $79 backpack, and he understood why.
He’s able to reach the high snacks up in the pantry, and he gets one for his little brother too.
He wants to pick out his own clothes, but he’s still mixing and matching superhero colors when he does it.
He buried his head in my shoulder when I showed him a clip of Gertie screaming when she saw E.T. for the first time, though he’d never want to admit to being scared.
He still uses the crib blanket he had as a baby. He doesn’t carry it around, but any time he’s tired or watches a movie, he goes and finds “blankie.”
He still giggles from the clippers on his neck when getting a haircut, and runs for the sucker at the end.
He also recently fell asleep on my shoulder watching Golden Girls. Don’t tell him I told you that.
He was at one time fearful of water, so much so that swimming lessons were a bust. But this summer, he held his breath and dipped way down into the water to retrieve diving sticks his dad put for him on the steps.
He used to hate having his hair washed in the bathtub, and now he doesn’t bat an eye.
He also had an unreasonable fear of bugs on the porch, specifically moths and mosquito hawks, and now he tries to catch them.
And as the new school year gets underway, I know there will be a lot more changes. I know it’s my job to prepare him for the world and teach him to conquer his fears and be able to stand on his own. I know he will leave the nest one day, and I will make sure he knows the ways of the world and the important things in life. I will build in him as much street cred as I can. But for now, he still calls me Mommy, and I am going to let him.