He followed behind me through the Target, trudging ever so slowly, his small feet stomp-stomp-stomping on the linoleum, something obviously amiss.
“What is it,” I crabbed through a yawn.
“I just… I thought I’d get a prize,” he said, stone cold serious.
“A prize????” I said, shocked. “For what?”
“For dancing with you,” he said, looking down at his slow, stomping, untied shoes on his slow, stomping, little boy feet.
But he was serious as a heart attack. Eight years old, that tear in the corner of his eye threatening to escape right on out and down his cheek. We’d spent 90 minutes at the annual Mother-Son Fall Ball, you see. There had been line dancing former woo girls recapturing their college days with eyes closed while they forgot for three minutes that they were in the cafetorium of the elementary school. There were at least three moms who didn’t realize that it wasn’t a full on formal event. There were banana clips. We had to hear what the damn fox said.
But for a brief minute, Stevie Wonder sang some mellow, comfortable, soothing Stevie Wonder song, and that boy came and grabbed me by the hand, and let me swing and sway right in the center of that makeshift dance floor, where at one point I even dipped him low and smothered him with wet kisses right there in front of his friends. Surely that’s worth a prize. Say, a Lego, retail price, $25. Why else would he have asked to stop at Target under the guise of “I’m hungry, can I get a snack.” We needed milk anyway.
Should have seen it coming.
He looked up at me. Pitiful.
“Please,” he whimpered. “You’re just so awesome.”
Call me a sucker. Call me a fool. Slap my ass and call me Lloyd Christmas. Because he’s right. I’m awesome.
It’s getting away from me, this childhood thing. Just like my Mama said it would. I won’t say that it’s blink-of-an-eye fast, but the things that I thought were just NEVER. GONNA. END….
- …middle of the night wake-ups
- …toddler sized clothes
- …believing in magical creatures
- …wanting me
- …needing me
It’s fading. It’s fading fast.
There was no “mother” in the Mother-Son Fall Ball. I joked with one of the other moms that they should sell alcohol. And we both went, “ha ha… ha ha ha….. a ha ha.. ha…”
*look at it disgusted because it’s not spiked*
*wish the alcohol fairy would appear*
*smile at one another*
*look at the air*
We really were just there to drop our kids off, and watch them run around the cafetorium for 90 minutes, and occasionally hand them a dollar bill to go and buy another glow stick like some learning curve into the raves of tomorrow. I suppose whatever it is that the fox says would be hilarious if I had some mind altering medications in me…
My fun and free party days gave in to these days of motherhood, of poopy diapers and midnight wake-ups and sore boobs and screw it I’m bottle feeding I’ll just lie to the breast-feeding Nazis because FOR THE LOVE my nipples are bleeding and carry on and carry through and first steps and first words. My fellow women-folk and I read the books and did the work on our relationships and made MORE babies (because of the alcohol) and did it again and took on more than we should because as it turned out we could and dammit we were good at it.
But the funny thing is, while we were busy preparing for babies — leaning to install car seats and to put them to sleep on their backs and testing nipples (for our filthy bottle feeding habits!!) and becoming oblivious to the vomity smell of the boppy wondering if we’d ruin them for life with an exersaucer versus the walker — no one even ONE time told us that we’d need to prepare for things like the Mother-Son Fall Ball. Or MAP testing. Or weekly spelling tests. Or parent teacher conferences. Or the extended phone call you’d have to have with an English teacher who’d marked on your seventh grader’s paper that the event he’d written about – the 1989 San Francisco earthquake – had never happened (totally true story).
One day they went off to pre-K, and it was so adorable, you pretty much wet yourself. You fail to realize how quickly it stops being so cute. That the 100-day project and Flat Stanley only go so far into a kid’s academic career.
Suddenly you’re left still with these little kids. But they sure aren’t your babies any more. They’re youngsters who want a prize for dancing with you.
“Isn’t he so amazing, he’ll be all grown before you know it,” my mother would say, her annoying words carving like a scratching bug right into my earhole.
Seriously, lady, why are you rushing him?
Why are you rushing along the mop top toddler-hood like I’ll forget all about it?
See. Still as little as always. Only not so much. Now, they want prizes for dancing with me.
I hate it when my mother was right.
So we made a deal. First, the selfie. The proof that there was in fact the Mother-Son Fall Ball. He wore a tie. I bought him glow sticks. I was his date. He lost a tooth just for the occasion. We danced. It wasn’t the longest dance, but it was a magical one. I sang when Stevie Wonder sang. He rolled his eyes at me. He let me kiss him in front of his friends.
He got his prize. One messy pre-packaged, terrible for you salty snack pack, and one (not $25, more like $3.99) Lego. He did, after all, dance with me.
And there is still this:
The little one and the big one, the big one almost there. The tips of my fingers just ever so slightly reach over the tippy tops of his. For now, this week, for the moment, my hands, these hands that once could hold both theirs inside the palm of my own, are still bigger.
They are still my baby boys.
They always will be.
You can have a prize.