We had dinner with my in-laws on Sunday. We were dressed to go out, meaning my son wasn’t wearing basketball shorts. I bought him a new pair of khakis when he went off to camp in July. At that point, they had a generous break and a little to grow on. Only two months later, I can see his ankles. They are already too short.
He’s sprawled on the stairs, ready to go back to the nap we roused him from to drag him off to dinner. He’s whip-thin and long-limbed and I can’t believe how huge he looks. I tell him that he’s grown. “Yeah,” he says. “My shirts are all too short, and my basketball shoes are two sizes too small.” It seems like most of our conversations these days end with some sort of expense. He is the only thing in the house that probably costs more than the house.
“I’ve got to stop feeding you after midnight,” I say. He doesn’t get the joke. He stands up, towering over me by a good 3 to 4 inches. I’m wishing I’d worn heels.
“It’s weird to hug you,” he says, draping his arms over my shoulders while trying to tuck my head under his chin. “I’ll bet I can even pick you up.”
I had no idea I was headed for a power struggle. Had I known, I would have dressed appropriately. “I’ll take your word on that. No need to test the theory.” He does it anyway, spins me like I did when he was little and sets me down. I’m dizzy. Is it the spinning or the sudden change in our positions that brought it on?
He leans over, slightly tiptoed to exaggerate the effect. “I like this.” He may be tall, but I still see the traces of baby in his face, in the curve of his chin, the rounded nose, his ears that still stick out a little.
“I’m so happy for you.” He can posture all he wants. As tough as he’d like to be he’s about as menacing as a chipmunk on stilts. “It changes nothing.”
He puffs up a little. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah.” I answer. “I can still ground your ass.”
He waits a beat, then hugs me again. “I love you Mommy.”
That’s more like it. I know he’s being facetious, but I’ll take it all the same.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Ogwin © 2004 Creative Commons