This morning, through a moment of weakness and bad judgement, I offered to volunteer at Dude's school at 8am. Mornings, as you know, are not my favourite part of the day but I did it. I got myself and all three kids up, dressed, through Timportance drive thru and to the middle school by 8am. The students were on time (mostly) and ready to go with great attitudes, which helped to take the edge off.
As I sipped my coffee and wandered the empty halls supervising the students, I had a moment of clarity. This is it. My baby, my first born boy is in middle school. He isn't a baby or a toddler or even a little guy anymore. He is a full blown tween on his way to all the crazy greatness of being a teen and then an adult. I think this revelation has been pushing at me for a while but I've been ignoring it.
He is taller, leaner and has lost all that baby cuteness. Yesterday someone commented to me how handsome he is and I said, "yep, he's a cute kid." She replied, "No, I mean he is a handsome guy, not like a little kid, but on his way to being a very good looking man." I thanked her but inwardly thought she was nuts, he's just a little boy. But when I stop to think about all that he is, I can't deny it. He is changing.
Sure he still likes Lego, Harry Potter and Nerf guns but so do a lot of grown men! He is calmer, more thoughtful and more interested in life. He has deep, beautiful thoughts that give us tiny glimpses into his soul. He has dreams for his future, intentions for a life filled with kindness, generosity and accomplishment. And he has an eye for a special little gal in his class.
He is growing and I need to accept it and celebrate it, although it breaks my heart and strengthens me in the same moment. All the hopes and wishes I had for the wee baby, the raging toddler, the scared little boy, the bright, brilliant and hilarious little man who has filled my heart and home for the past decade are coming true. He is kind, empathetic, thoughtful, intelligent and independent. He is a guy, just like every other kid in the halls of this school and yet he is unique. He fits in and he stands out.
I was still reeling from this epiphany when I dismissed the students. All the kids filed out of the room, wishing me a good weekend and thanking me for my time. Dude followed them out, but without so much as a good bye. I was a little disappointed but I got it, he's at school with his pals and hugging your mommy in the hallway could be social suicide in middle school. I started to pack up my stuff ,resigning myself to what he was becoming, when he came back into the classroom.
"Bye mom, have a good day."
"Bye, Buddy. See you later."
He walked over, looked around to make sure no one who mattered was looking and he gave me a quick sideways hug. My heart melted. I held him for an extra second and whispered in his ear, "I love you, always."
He walked away and I wasn't sure he heard me until he turned at the door, waved and said, "Always."
And he was gone.
I felt a little melancholy on the drive home, sure that my time with him was quickly passing. I went through the routine of cleaning up from breakfast and hanging up stray coats and sweaters when I noticed two very important items sitting on the couch. Dude's special blanket and his bear, Cha-Cha. He still loved them and needed them so maybe there's hope for me ... maybe I'll get to keep him for a little while longer.