Thursday, February 3, 2011

Naked Grills are a Good Thing

Nothing prepares you for the day that you put your son to bed a boy and he stomps down the stairs the next morning as a full grown man. But that’s pretty much how it happens. One day he’s cataloging his Neopet collection and the next day he’s playing guitar in a hardcore band. If you’re slow, if you blink, you will miss the transformation


This is the thought that occurred to me as I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning, talking to my son about the fact that he was scheduled to get his braces off after school.  Like any “good” mother I promised him an effed up bucktoothed, beaver grill if he didn’t wear his retainer at night, and like any good son, he humored me and promised to wear it. There, at the kitchen counter, he seemed like a walking contradiction. Here was this ginormous, deep voiced man-boy, drinking a juice box and talking about looking forward to chewing gum and eating skittles again. I actually caught myself looking at him with my head tilted like the RCA dog trying to figure out how I missed the fact that he had sprouted the shoulder span of a linebacker.

It definitely wasn’t always that way. When he was little, there were a lot of "well meaning" comments and questions from my parents and in-laws about his slight build and motor-driven antics For example, every time my father saw him in the pool or the bathtub, he would invariably ask me “Does he eat?”.  It took every ounce of restraint and good humor that I had to\keep my razor-sharp tongue in its holster during these little exchanges. (Which by the way, I am still waiting for the Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing. 'Cause, the questions from my in-laws? They could have made Gandhi go postal,)  I mean, I certainly understood why they might have had concerns, he was ghostly white and you could count every rib. He used to bounce off the walls and furniture like a pinball. He was so hyper that his doctor nicknamed him “perpetual motion baby”, because his arms and legs never stopped moving when you picked him up.

But like many of the concerns that you have with your children, particulaly as a first time parent, this just faded away. By the time he was 13, the question of my son’s frailness gave way to concern for our ability to continue shoveling food in his ever-chewing yap. It was around this time that my father stopped asking me whether he ate and switched over to “What’s your grocery bill like these days?”.

When I came home from work that night was all excited to see how he looked without his braces. I hadn't seen his teeth since early sixth grade and at that time, they were, ummm, bucky, for lack of a better word. He came bopping into the kitchen in his usual fashion and I was knocked back by his appearance. He had a straight, white, movie star smile. He actually looked like he aged another couple of years since breakfast. I was very happy for him, but kind of sad for myself. My little boy was clearly a man.

As I collapsed into bed that night I tried to find the silver lining in my son's silver lining-less smile. He had grown up in a blink and his 11 year old sister was running hard to catch up with him. Restless, I got up and went to the bathroom. I turned the light on and took a long look in the mirror.  I had bags under my eyes and the beginning of crow's feet, but at 47 that was to be expected. Then, I had the most horrifying thought  . . what if we parents aged at the same lightning speed as our children?  At this stage of the game, that would have tipped me straight into shuffling with a walker-land. I sighed heavily, relieved that nature was not quite that cruel.  And then it dawned on me,  there was the silver lining that I had been hoping for.

17 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

Bossy Betty said...

Oh Sister! I can totally relate to this post! I have a man/child walking around here. Where did my baby boy go?

Mommy Lisa said...

They DO change in a blink! You see it if you look back at school pictures too. One year "My BABY!" the next "Who is THAT MAN!"

Jen Chandler said...

I really like this post. A very sweet reflection on your son. I don't have children, but I have nieces and nephews. My oldest niece will turn 16 this year. Really?!?! And here I thought she was still 8...

foxy said...

So the moral of this story for a soon-to-be first time mommy is to pay attention to and learn to appreciate every single second because it's gone in a moment, right?

Will do. :)

The Empress said...

How I love it when you post.

This one here? Took the words right out of my mouth.

When did my perpetual motion baby that kicked and wiggled every single time I picked him become such a handsome, good, kind man??

When??

Because someone should've told me, so I'd be prepared, and wouldn't walk around with a lump in my throat all the time.

Oh, yeah, you did try to tell me, everyone did.

I just think it would happen to me.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this post.

Thank you.
It always feels good to not feel so all alone.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

I enjoyed this post very much. I remember about 2 years ago I was driving down the road and saw a girl walking toward me and thought, "Wow, that is a really gorgeous...my Middlest, when did that happen?" : )
I never thought of the silver lining from that perspective. Good angle to keep in mind.

Kelly L said...

I know what you mean about the in-laws... crazy and yes - I agree our kids grow up so fast and they will turn out great. Great post.

love to you
Kelly
I've Become My Mother

Linda Medrano said...

Oh Honey, I know exactly what you mean. My grandson, Cyrus, was the sweetest little boy ever. He was small and slight and even a little fragile as a boy. He turned 18 last month, and he's BIG and gorgeous and funny and a man. Where did it all go? How did this happen almost overnight? Strange feeling, I know.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Bossy Betty - It's like you need to hold your eyes open with toothpicks, because if you blink, you miss something important.

Mommy Lisa - Pictures are bittersweet reminders of a different time.

Jen - That's the way it is with all kids. They seem on an accelerated path to adulthood.

Foxy - You got the message loud and clear!

Empress - I'm with you all the way. It's almost like a magic trick. Pouf and they are grown up. SIGH!

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded - Better to find a silver lining than to wonder where the time went.

Kelly - In-laws. I actually like mine, but they still said some ridiculous things about our kids.

Linda - So its just as astonishing with grandkids? At least I know now,

Amy said...

OH, DG!! This post makes me most sad at the time that is just slipping away. While my boy is only two, I feel that 'growing up too fast' feeling.

Though, I must say, I am a bit torn. While yes, I will miss my baby when he's a snarky teen, I won't miss the toddler tantrums, sleepless nights, and lack of communication. I guess, I have to accept some sadness with the joy of growing babes.

13!!!! Wow! Stay strong mama;(

MiMi said...

This right here:
Here was this ginormous, deep voiced man-boy, drinking a juice box and talking about looking forward to chewing gum and eating skittles again. I actually caught myself looking at him with my head tilted like the RCA dog and tried to figure out how I missed the fact that he had sprouted the shoulder span of a linebacker.


It's gonna be me doing that one day. CRIES.

Amy said...

The part that MiMi picked out got me too! I was convulsing with laughter at "man-boy" and then bawling crying towards the end. Everyone can relate to this...Great post!

peewee said...

yah. My 13 yr old nephew's voice is all deeper now. Like, ALL OF A SUDDEN!

It freaks me out. I still want to buy him sponge bob pajamas! NOOOOOOO!!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

MiMi - Yeah, and you won't see it coming, it will just run you over like a train. Hang in there!

Amy - That little boy of yours may tantrum (oh how I remember stepping over that little body, feet and fists kicking the ground over not getting another cookie, or some such critical issue)but you can still pick him up, shower him with kisses and hugs and be in control - kinda/sorta/most of the time. I have very little control these days, but luckily, I still get to hug him now and again.

PeeWee - My 10 year old nephew is still young and sweet and child-like. I will be equally crushed when he grows up.

Susan Fobes said...

I loved this post! Things change practically overnight-my son at 8 makes a fuss when I try to kiss him goodnight now, but it was only a short while ago that he was the one doing all the hugging and kissing... Oh well, take a deep breath and sigh loudly.

linlah said...

Then they get married and that starts a whole other set of silver linings.

Aunt Juicebox said...

I remember the braces phase, and the first bra, and OMG the first period! And now she's 17. I took her 19 yr old boyfriend shopping for pants, and he had to get a BOYS size 12. :P

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