It seems to have happened so suddenly. This year my oldest boy is not interested in face paint. He doesn’t want his whole face painted like a tiger and he has no use for a cute little picture painted onto his cheek. His Halloween costume is more subtle than his brother’s and sister’s: jeans and an orange t-shirt with “Camp Half-Blood” printed in black across the front. He’s Percy Jackson.
And then yesterday we took the boys to get their hair cut and he got up from the chair looking three years older. He’s got the awkward gait of a teenager, he talks about more grown-up things, and I can’t remember the last time he held my hand.
My husband caught me giving our son moony eyes this morning. I just can’t help it. Out of nowhere my chubby little baby has morphed into this handsome, kind, intelligent man-child before my eyes and I feel blind sighted. I feel cheated. I’m more than a little annoyed that nobody pointed out the obvious to me 10 years ago: they grow up. And fast.
(Okay, maybe someone pointed it out, but I was too busy rolling my eyes because I was up to my elbows in diapers and toddler toys and Thomas the Tank Engine so I didn’t believe them.)
It feels like we’ve officially closed the door on the season of little children. Our youngest is 7. I still see her as my baby. She holds my hand and cuddles. But she can tie her own shoes and make her own lunch. Walking through a parking lot is no longer a desperate race for our lives. They can all do multiplication and read chapter books. They make their beds in a way that actually looks like they made their beds.
I’ve had a chance to come up for air and see how far we’ve come, how much they’ve grown. And now that I’ve seen it, I’ve been feeling this aching need to slow down and soak in all the details of these people I’ve been trusted with, to stop time just a little before we head into these teenage years.
I know the years to come will be filled with their own kind of joy and laughter and love, but these “littles” years were so fleeting and I’m sad to see them go. They’ve gone from first smiles to first steps to first days of school. Each more celebrated than the last. Now we’re creeping up on first crushes and first cars and first dates.
So every morning, I’ll hold on to those hugs as long as I can. I’ll read all the books and listen to all the silly stories and off-the-wall ideas. I’ll kiss those soft cheeks and nose tips as often as I can.
And someday (probably soon), my son will catch me giving him moony eyes.
And he’ll just shake his head and say “Geez, Mom.”