My son is trying to grow up.
He’s almost twelve, and he is spending his summer staring over the precipice of his teen years, trying to figure out just how to make that leap into adulthood. Deciding what to bring with him, and what to leave behind.
Yesterday he spent the day cleaning out his room, something I can tell you he never, ever does, working hard to turn it into a “bachelor pad”. His words. Into the pile of discards went the oodles of webkinz obsessively collected for their keys to the internet, the stuffed animals he bought with his own money and which then crowded his bed at night, the electronic toys he begged for at Christmas and birthday time and maybe played with half a dozen times. Bits and pieces of his little-boy self, filling bags to be taken – where? Who takes this stuff anymore?
And in their place he set up the mini pinball machine, the dartboard, the basketball hoop. He got rid of the magician’s kit but kept a deck of cards. If he had his way, there’d be a mini fridge and an ice cream maker there, too, but I had to draw the line somewhere.
When they’re babies, everyone tells you to “cherish every moment; it goes by so fast”, but honestly, that time just crawls by. Minutes tick into hours, and days fold into weeks, and still they’re just babies. Every day seems like an endless cycle of feeding, naps and diaper changes, no end in sight. At least, it did to me.
But now time is like a train, gathering speed as it goes, and I can’t make it slow down, no matter how hard I try.
I can see him daily waffling between his little boy self and this older, taller version, navigating emotions he doesn’t understand, wanting to be cool but still needing the reassurance of an occasional hug. He carefully combs down his hair every morning, rebuffs my morning kiss, but still sleeps with one stuffed animal. He pays attention to what other kids are wearing and loads up his iPod with tunes from Ke$ha. But this morning he hesitated next to the big bag of discarded webkinz, and asked if it would be ok if he kept a couple. Just as mementos, he told me.
He is standing at that precipice, and it looks a little scary, and it helps to have a few friends.