Little Boy Going on Big

The cutest little boy used to live with us.  My husband and I were talking about him just the other evening.  He wasn’t with us long.  In fact, his stay flew by.  He used to hold my hand and climb up on my lap for a story.  He had a zoo-full of imaginary animals friends, including Gallup–a horse made of a broom stick and a bandanna.  I don’t know what happened to that kid.    I just wish I’d known when he took my hand that day it would be the very last time he would.  The next time, he’d wriggle his hand away from my grasp.  I wish I’d known and I’d have done something special, some ceremony or ritual to mark that dividing line between holding hands and walking alone.   There’s a great big, tall, low-voiced young man who lives with us now who has a charm all his own.  He’s turning fourteen soon and I know better now.  I know I’d better pay attention to the things he outgrows.  Just like with the little boy I took to the jungle jim at the park–every time I got used to one of his acrobatic feats, felt I could step back and let him go it on his own, he’d try something new, something that was almost, but not quite within his reach.  I’d have to rush in to steady or catch.   So, this year, when he turns fourteen, I’m going to remember what thirteen felt like.

 

Thirteen

You aren’t what I expected you would be

This other person in the house

How could I possibly have known

The sum of all your parts?

In my hand your little one nested

But yours grew bigger than mine

With veins like your father’s hands

My father’s eyes in certain light

Cherokee cheekbones with freckles

My brother’s goofy laugh

You used to steal my shoes to scuff around the house

Now you give me hand-me-downs

You hung medieval swords on your wall

And gave them each a name

Like the one-hundred and three stuffed animals

Inside a box in the basement

I still reach for your hand crossing the street

But you recoil because I forget sometimes

You are thirteen now

And you wrote no letters

To Santa Clause this year

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Filed under A Teacher's Journal, Learning With Your Child

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