Yesterday my youngest son (who’s
3…I mean 9…ok…15) went to a costume party. Due to a minor basketball injury he was told by the orthopedist to use crutches or a cane for a few days until his knee healed. His plans initially were to go dressed as an Oklahoma Used Car Salesman, but the walking issue changed his mind and he decided to go as Dr. House. After scruffing a bit of mascara on his face, which, incidentally, is shaped absolutely NOTHING like Hugh Laurie’s, he managed to pull off a grumpy oldish guy look. Topped with a pill bottle full of Tic Tacs, somehow he did it.
Now. I know he doesn’t really look like Dr. House, but he does look like a man. A real man. Grown up and stuff, with a degree of gravitas and cynicism brought on by years of dealing with asshole bosses and a bum knee earned during high school basketball.
It was disconcerting, looking at that picture. You don’t see the sweet tempered 4 year old boy that I knew, and still see when I wake him up in the morning. You know the one, that wears overall and drives Tonka trucks and insists on chicken fingers at every restaurant we go to. I guess due to his position as youngest, he will always be the baby.
Maybe that will end when the grandchild comes, and his place in the chain of command will move up a notch. Did I tell you we have a grandbaby coming? Yes, we do. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Maybe when The Newest member Of The Family starts looking pregnant, and The Son Who’s Married Now starts panicking, then it will sink in.
When ever it happens, we are sure to be the most irritating grandparents ever, as we will be pretty sure we are the first people to be grandparents ever and will blow up the internet with baby pictures.
The problem I am having here lately is with the concept of having men in my family, that aren’t the obvious choice for men, that is, father and husband and possibly brother. Nowadays, the men in the family are the ones that are still babies in my mind. Having babies of their own. I know it’s the grand scheme of things and The Way It Is and all that stuff. I know that babies grow up and people get old (don’t get me started on menopause and all THAT is doing to me!) and all of it is how it’s supposed to be….but to other people. Not me. And certainly NOT my children!
I still have a few more months before having to utterly let go of the notion that he is 4 years old and Tonka-truck driving. That is when he will be driving for real. not just Supervised, but really for real. We have a car for him, a 17 year old Toyota 4Runner that won’t go over 65. on one hand I look forward to being able to hand him a $5 and send him out for milk, on the other hand, the idea of giving up control, of no longer always being in charge of his every move, is disconcerting.
Now is when it’s time to trust his upbringing, to let go enough to allow him leeway to fall on his face and make mistakes and learn from them, while providing a little bit of a safety net. Eventually, not before too long, we will need to let him go, make his own decisions and really be a man. Choose a career, a wife, a life, and make his own family to worry over.
Letting go is…scary…and exciting. I am eager to see what sort of man he is going to be. I can see parts of it. He is very honest, and secure in himself (the kid…not self conscious at all. How many 15 year olds do you know with the confidence to walk into the orthodontist’s office wearing a hotdog hat?) These bode well.
Letting go of each of my boys has been unique. Each one has been so different, and grow up into such different sorts of men, I can’t really compare one experience with another. I can only reassure myself that as difficult as the letting go can be (and has been), no one died, and everyone benefited.
In about 7 months time, (God willing) there will be the beginning of the next generation showing up. We get to play a different role then, not parents anymore, with the responsibilities of discipline all that parenting stuff, but grandparents, and all the fun that comes with it. I didn’t have close grandparents when I was growing up, so there isn’t much for me to draw on. Himself was very close to his, and had an excellent role model, so he will be the one who leads grandparenting way around here.
Until then, until the young man steps away far enough, I will continue to see the little fella in overalls, shoving a Tonka truck all over the back yard.