Is, was, shall be
Last week out of the blue, Noah decided he was going to start walking to school solo. We live within spitting distance of the building, but up until that point, despite our encouragement on the matter, he had been steadfast about maintaining a Noah-parent cohort for his block and a half jaunt each morning. I had been insistent he try it without us a few times, thinking his autonomy was “better” for him and for us, until finally Luke pointed out that it was likely Noah was clinging to the one small shred of one-on-one time he could still claim during that walk.
Which, of course he was. And when I looked at the calendar and realized how few days he had left at a school we could see from our front lawn if we strained our necks, I started clinging to it, too.
It’s not that he doesn’t want us to walk him in the mornings any more. He’d probably be happy to accept company. But he’s always (always) ready before we are, and I would bet money he’s one of the first kids through the front doors of the school. He loves arriving early, beating his classmates to the punch/seat. Some days I feel like I’ve barely been out of bed before he appears before me, bookbag slung over one shoulder (“Someone told me only nerds carry their bookbags on one shoulder. I don’t think he’s right, but … I just want to, anyway.”), ready for the hug he gives me every morning without fail.
And so it looks like we’ve arrived again to the in-between place.
When he wakes in the morning, sleep-lined cheeks reminiscent of a 2-year old face guide his 12-year-old sized feet to the kitchen where 9-year old savvy helps him pour milk into a bowl containing enough cereal to feed a 15-year old breakfast.
He needs no assistance to ready himself for the day, often reminding me of permission slips and lunch money and school events that start at 8:30, Mom—so you may want to walk over at 8:25 to get a good seat. He’s careful to comb his hair, slicking down the cowlicks. He helps his brother put on pants. He rolls his eyes at his sister. He flops down on the couch and picks up his book, starting it where he left off, on page 432.
He helps in the kitchen. Scrambles eggs. Sets the table without asking. Brings the recycling bin in from the street. Sweeps.
But at night, before sleep, he still wants us to tuck him in.
Tell me stories from when I was little.
You used to call rakes “brakes.” You hated it when cars parked on grass. You were scared of the hair dryer. You slept with a Matchbox car in each hand every night. You made the funniest face ever when we fed you peas. Once you fell and chipped your front tooth and I cried. The first time I ever saw you, you reached your arms straight for me, like you knew I was the one who wanted to hold you most.
Once you asked us to walk you to school, even though it was only a block away.