Up, Up and Gently Away
By Susan Besze Wallace
I tell my second-grader I will walk with him to the bus today. He says, ďNo thanks.
ThatĎs OK. Love you.Ē Slam.
Iíve showered. Iím dressed -- in real clothes even. I will not demand a kiss upon departure. So whatís the deal?
ďDonít take it personally,Ē says my husband, who is still acceptable on the five-house journey to bus No. 710. Dad can wait in the cul de sac, chat up the other kids. Heck, theyíve probably invited him to join the daily kickball game. Donít take it personally Ö
Itís all personal, isnít it? It took several years and refinancing the house to have him. He and I have spent countless hours bonding and learning together. His big blue eyes are mine. We have always been buds, surviving dad gone for seven months, a tonsillectomy, a cross-country move Ö His dorky tendencies, crooked teeth and passion for a great story Ė thatís my gene pool. I know him.
So why donít I know why he treats me like a bug on the sidewalk when I go to meet the bus? Itís not like Iím going to tell everyone he still laughs hysterically at Curious George and asks me to lay down with him every night. I recently let him wear shorts to school when it was 32 degrees, because he asked me to trust him. He has no idea how cool I am.
I know the bus is the first of many walks, physical and figurative, that he will have without me. The boy is using deodorant and reading in the bathroom. My days are numbered. So I guess we will do this independence dance, and I will to stay ready to duck and dodge out of his way as he matures and needs to attach more to Dad Ė still insisting on his respect, of course.
He wants to know how to spell ďawesomeĒ in the same ten minutes he accuses me of always telling him what to write. Sometimes I feel like heís two people, and I know I have to love them both, even if I can only kiss one of them in public.
I savor every moment of closeness more now than when he fit in my arms. I recently took him to Literacy Night, even got child care for his brothers, so we could rotate rooms and listen to stories together. For the finale, we were squished in the library, and I snagged a chair. He actually sat on my lap voluntarily.
And I just grinned as he blocked my view and all 62 pounds of him crushed my legs for half an hour as we listened to a tale about rainbow goblins. I kissed the manly fuzz growing on the back of his neck. He didnít flinch.
I get it. Heíll always need me. Itís just that now, he needs to walk ahead of me when he can. But we both know Iíve got his back.
Susan Besze Wallace spends her days trying to end life with diapers and yet hoping sons Zach, 8, Luke, 5, and A.J., 3, all age very, very slowly. Husband Todd, the slowly aging fourth male, has been her best friend for 20 years.