My kids sometimes leave me awestruck.
When they do something that I struggle with even today and especially when they do something I would never have done at their age, I am often stuck somewhere between heart-bursting pride and gobsmacked.
I often feel a little bereft when I drop them off at something new. A class, a new school year, today it was a camp.
Off he went, my boy. Didn’t know anyone. Didn’t really know what he was in for. For seven hours. But he went just the same.
At his age, walking into a room full of people I didn’t know but would spend hours and hours with over the coming days would have been torture for me. I was always one of those little girls who needed – I can see my mother’s face now – “a friend to go with.” If I didn’t have a friend and she had to be a good friend, not someone I vaguely knew through our mothers, then I would completely refuse to go.
Not these boys. The activity is everything. Relationships unimportant. They can be made and broken and remade a hundred times a day. Relationships make things comfortable but ultimately peripheral.
But building a habitat with nothing but the materials found in nature? Now you’re talkin’! Everything else is superfluous.
Even as babies, my two never did that little look over their shoulder to check mommy was there before toddling a few paces and repeating the process. I read about that in child development books.
Instead, independently or together, they would see something on the horizon and scramble, run or crawl as fast as their little legs or knees would carry them in order to reach their goal, my presence completely forgotten as they focused on whatever prey they had in sight. Visiting a non-gated park was unwise. Going for a walk around the block was impossible.
At drop-off, my son is now at an age where I ask how he wants me to be. Should I leave immediately or hang around? Sit in the car or next to him? Should I ki…no, silly question.
And here is where I am reminded he’s still a little boy. Because we check in, then we sit. He doesn’t really want me to leave. We chat a little while he looks around to make things familiar. We wait.
And then he is called. And I am left. Standing on the curbside feeling unsure, a little awkward. Off he goes stoic, anticipating. No kiss goodbye or words. I go back to my car and as I do, he looks over his shoulder to see if I’m still there.
And then. He’s gone.