Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Moment it All Changes

I knew this day would come. I didn't expect it to be in the quiet of the night.
I pet my nine year old son's head as I said good night to him. After a weekend away with Daddy alone, camping with the boy scouts, I wanted to reconnect with him and check in. I asked him how everything was, and after a sigh he said "Mom you know how other kids and well, me know how I like Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Star Trek and stuff like that?"
"Yes." I smoothed his hair from his face and remembered how small his head was when he was a bay, like a coconut.
"Well, I just realized I am surrounded by stuffed animals."

"Ohhhh." Here it is. That moment. The line of demarcation between boy and pre-teen. Even at nine, the shift has begun. I see his room as he does and my mouth form a round o.
"Well, what do you think about that Ben?"
"I think maybe I need to give some stuffed animals away."
"Well okay, but you don't need to, whatever you want to do is fine, but nothing is a have to. If you want them, or one or none, that's okay. If you want Star Wars stuff that's okay too. You are growing up aren't you?"
"Yeah." he said almost as wistfully as I felt. My heart aches.
I want to say, No! Don't change, don't grow up. Love stuffed animals! Keep playing with them and making those funny little conversations between them. I don't care of you crash them and have them shoot at each other...just don't grow up.

But I don't. This is about him feeling empowered to bridge the gap between where he is and where he is going confidently. It's not about me and my wish for him to be cute and cuddly for the rest of his life.

"You are becoming a young man. And you are going to go through changes, feelings, body, things you like and don't like will change and that's okay, and you can always talk to Daddy if you don't feel comfortable talking to Mommy. Sometimes a boy likes to talk to a man about stuff too. And I am always here. I want you to know that it is all normal and perfectly okay."
"Okay, well, I am going to get rid of my stuffed animals."
"I just have one request." I whisper.
"When you do that, don't say that stuffed animals are for babies or anything okay? Because Bodee and Bronson might still want to have some and feel okay about that."
"Oh I would never do that." He says knowingly.
"I am going to ask them if they want some first and then I am going to just sell them or give them to Goodwill."
"Ok, cool son. And let me know if you want to change your room around, get posters or whatever."
He nods. He is growing up. One day stuffed animals are fun and one day they are not.
Perspective shifts in a moment. Growth happens in a breath.
Change happens as swiftly as a the Santa Ana winds.
I may not be ready, but it's happening. Since it's happening, I might as well roll with it, not make it wrong, not show my sadness but support him in his new path.
I can even see being inspired and excited by his plans to redecorate his room, kiss the stuffed animals good bye and embrace the new Ben.

Zen Honeycutt

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