Today, I went Thanksgiving grocery shopping with my oldest, who is 11-years old. He is such a great kid: sensitive, smart, articulate, kind. He spends his days with one foot in the world of a little kid and one foot in the world of a teenager. There are many ways in which he yearns to be older, to have more freedom and to experience life on his own. There are also many ways that he is happy to stay "little." He still plays imagination games all the time, watches G-rated movies, and likes to cuddle.
He knows the truth about Santa Claus, but is happy to pretend otherwise to help out his mom and dad. Sometimes he pretends so well that I have to wonder if the pretense is for his younger siblings' sake or his own.
Today while we were walking from one store to the next, we headed towards a crowd of teenagers hanging out and being goofballs. He immediately slowed down so that he could walk behind me and not be so close to mom. His posture changed, his pace changed, his entire self took on the cloak of a teenager. Once we passed the group and entered the store, my boy was back at my side, chatting about some silliness or other.
A few minutes later, walking again between stores, I was explaining something to him and using my hands as I talked. I put both of my hands out to make a point. He thought I was putting my hand out for him to take. And as natural as anything, he grabbed it, and we walked a little ways holding hands.
So there he is. Too cool to walk near me and little enough to want to hold my hand.
He is our first. He is our Great Experiment. He will always be the first to take us everywhere we need to go as parents and will bear the brunt of our learning curve. Like most of us, he has many fears; unlike many of us, he thrashes through them and gets up each morning ready to face what comes.
On this eve of Thanksgiving, I am thankful that God has given him so many words to tell us how he feels, such a big heart to feel for others, and so much courage to face the world. I will learn a lot from him, if I am patient enough to listen.
Now, if I could just get him to eat something other than sour dough bread for Thanksgiving dinner, I would trust that he will be just fine in the world.
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