"Young boys should never be sent to bed…
they always wake up a day older."
~ J.M. Barrie, "Finding Neverland"
As a mom of two teenagers and a tween, I am extremely thankful when I see evidences my youngest is still more "boy" than "man". Take yesterday, for example.
After realizing my daughter had nothing little to wear, we spent the day shopping before and after her final exam. Seven hours. Because a) my "likes-to-shop" gene died years ago, b) my middle son's after-school plans were canceled so he had to join us, and c) it also involved bathing suit shopping for me, this was "work".
By the time we got home, I was absolutely stick-a-fork-in-me-I'm done. Perpetual laundry and cooking dinner were staring me down, but before getting started on either, I started rifling through our purchases to evaluate what we ended up with (at some point in the day, I had hit the "dazed and confused" wall of shopping, and for all I knew, my kids could've snuck in 10 pounds of Oreos. Not that there's anything wrong with that.).
Oblivious to my heightened state of exasperation (stemming from, in part, my discovery of imminent returns), in walks Stephen, chattering away in his typical cheerful manner. Because I was distracted, I was only half listening. The little boy in him still likes playing with stuffed animals, and though his older siblings chide him about it, he doesn't care; he continues to name them and weave stories about them and be entertained by them. His colorful imagination is enviable.
I'm acutely and painfully aware these days are numbered. I cherish this about my son. Five minutes ago I had three children who couldn't bathe, dress, tie shoes or wipe themselves, and now I'm down to one who, joyfully and uninhibited, plays with imaginary friends. I refuse to rush this fleeting season to the next; the tell-tale pounding of time marching forward taunts more loudly each day.
And yet, I believe it's important not to demand that he remain a little boy forever.
The tension of motherhood: letting go versus holding on for dear life. Cultivating respectful independence without creating unhealthy dependence.
Not a job for cowards!
He walks in with the bunnies he's referred to as Felicia and Jedediah–prizes a friend of his "won" plunking coins into an automated crane game at the mall. He's talked **a lot** about these rabbits; that day he came home with a pair of frogs, but he talked more about the pair of bunnies his friend had. In a trade, Josh had given them to Stephen yesterday, and Stephen brought them in to show me.
I barely looked up until in the midst of his loquacious monologue I heard, "…and this is where I neutered them…"!
That he a) seemed to use that term with full knowledge and ease, and b) that the mall gives anatomically correct stuffed animals immediately got my attention! As I inspected his new pride and joy, I was confused then relieved to find–
- Felicia and Jedediah look like little doggies to me; when I questioned Stephen, he responded with, "Look at those ears–do dogs have ears like that?!" And I'm thinkin' ummmm, yeah, and then I questioned him further about the tail. "Well, Pepper has a little nub…" and then I realized that he just loves rabbits **so much** that that's what he sees.
- He used the term "neuter" to mean he clipped their tags, not any gender-identifying (and plain wrong on a stuffed animal!) body parts.
Bless his heart…!