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Milestones

Jack's First Day of T-Ball Practice

Jack started t-ball this weekend. Not the piddly stuff we’ve done previously but real live t-ball that requires a glove, batting helmet and cleats. It was a little surreal.

Jack tends to be our sentinel, the scout we send on ahead to forge the path that his brothers will follow. When we hit one of these milestones — these new experiences that act like a flashing red arrow on the life-map that declares “You are HERE!” — there’s always a period of time where I struggle with the knowledge that they are all steadily marching away from me on that inexorable path to adulthood and lives all their own. Lives where I’ll no longer have a lead role, but have to settle for a supporting actress nod when it suits them. That is how it should be, and really I wouldn’t want it any other way. But for now, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

And if it isn’t bad enough that my oldest chick is testing his wings, Will — my youngest baby by a whole minute — is demanding a small measure of independence as well.

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“No, mom! Don’t touch me! I can do it my-silf!” he chides, waving my hands away and inadvertently causing his bike to waggle on it’s path down our street. He makes a frantic grab for the handlebars and manages to regain control, continuing on his single-minded quest to reach the end of our block.

“I goin’ somewhere, Mom.”

“Where?” I ask, genuinely wondering what could inspire such an impressive display of mental and physical exertion in one so tiny that I have trouble remembering he’s actually the same age as his brothers.

“Out there,” he replies, his slender index finger indicates a point ahead of him, but this time the rest of his fingers never relinquish their grip on the yellow handlebars of his Thomas the Tank Engine bike. He learns quickly, this one.

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I follow his eyes down our street and up the rise where the road disappears around a slight curve. I wonder what adventure he thinks lies around that bend in the road. An ice cream parlor? A circus tent? What could excite such a single minded devotion in my littlest boy?

“What’s over there?” I ask, unable to stand the suspense for another moment.

“I dunno,” he replies. “Somesing.” He peddles furiously to draw ahead of me, and I let him. Watching his tiny back as he moves further away from my helping hands.

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Something. Something different. Something unknown. Might be great. Might be terrible. But either way, he has to find out. And one day I’ll have to let him.

But for now, I let him reach the end of our block then coax him to turn back with the tried and true lure of a snack and a juice box. He makes me add a promise that he can go bike-riding again tomorrow, and I agree, offering a silent prayer for sunshine the next day instead of the projected rain.

He wobbles a pretty fair right hand turn and together we head back to the sanctuary of home. Rarely a day passes when I’m not hit with the realization that nothing is forever. And really, I wouldn’t have it any other way, I tell myself — hoping that saying it loudly and often will make it be true.

But it is comforting to know, at least for now, his sights are set on home.

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Posted in Kids, Parenting, Uncategorized.


6 Responses

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  1. amy says

    LOOK AT THAT SUN!!! And those kids are not wearing ANY jackets at all!! Why do I live in New England again? ;)

    Hmm, I never thought of my oldest as a sentinel.. but I am keenly aware that I’ve had all the babies I’m going to have, and the girl is doing all the firsts for the last time–if that makes any sense. It’s bittersweet.

  2. Barbara says

    I, too, am jealous of that sunshine and obvious warmth. We’re having snow in Green Bay–again.

    I’m also jealous of your little boys. It’s been a very long time since I had to let my nestlings fly, and mine flew very far away to Montana and Kentucky, but one’s coming home to start building his own nest not too far away. Thanks for the reminder that every day is precious.

  3. jodi says

    Amy and Barbara, the bonus of living in your snow-covered worlds (besides snowball fights) is that you get to mock those of us in the south that don’t know how to drive on ice and freak out over a projected 1 inch of accumulation. And you don’t have to deal with Alabama’s state bird (the mosquito) virtually year-round. ;)

  4. Tessa says

    Ok, makes me want to cry… I MISS my boys!!! I can’t wait to be there Friday and I’m hoping for some SUN shine then too!!!! :)

  5. Kate says

    I’m with Amy – my littlest is my last, and each lisp, each tooth, each new skill or word marks a kind of rearguard action in raising my family. I hug them and tickle them and try to remember that this sweetness is only for such a short time, my personal time can wait till they are in bed – but by glory there will be no tv or computer tomorrow for anyone who gets out of bed tonight!!!

  6. Bells says

    Aw, I love this post. I’m sitting here tired and moody on a Friday night with my second glass of wine and feeling a whole lot of tender cluckiness for your boys – who I’ve never met. Just lovely.



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