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From toddlers to teens, times for letting go

Submitted by on Monday, 2 June 2008 No Comment

Seems I have something in common with Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.

We’re both journalists — never mind that he has a Pulitzer and I don’t. Who needs it? It’s just more junk to gunk up the house.

We’ve both owned Nerf guns — except I aim mine at co-workers and he used his to chase monsters from underneath his daughter’s bed.

We’re both parents — except my oldest is on the cusp of kindergarten, while his is ready to leave for college.

Which brings me to the real connection between us — letting go.

He of a young woman. And me of my last baby.

I have it easier than he does right now, because I have a few more good years with the guys, when they still think Mom has at least some of the answers and what she can’t answer, ice cream will fix.

He, on the other hand, is about to watch his baby walk out the door. Not literally — “”You still live in that landfill down the hall you call a bedroom,”" he wrote. But it won’t be the same, as she goes on to college and career and a world that intersects less and less with dad’s.

“”What comes now is the beginning of goodbye,”" he wrote in an eloquent column on the eve of her high school graduation.

Though our children are 15 years apart, I’m on that same path.

I realized it last week, when Little Guy looked up at me with big, sincere blue eyes and said sweetly, “”Mommy, can you make banana cake tomorrow?”"

I did, because it was the first time he’d asked me to bake something. And because he was so dang nice about it. And so articulate.

Was this the kid who this time last year could manage nothing more than quasi-guttural grunts: “”Mommy, budder hit me!”"

He still calls a steering wheel a “”bummer,”" and for the life of us Big Guy and I can’t figure out why.

But he runs differently — his arms are catching up to his legs in the pumping motion, and he can comes closer to Big Guy’s heels every day.

His face has changed — the chubby, cherubic look is gone, and in its place are the angles of boyhood.

The baby belly is all but gone, and tiny muscles are forming everywhere.

And his new favorite phrase is “”No, I do it.”" Never mind that he struggled for 10 minutes to fasten his “”Thomas button”" pajamas tonight. By golly, he did it.

All of which is well and good. Except sometimes, I miss that tiny mewling person and those first embraces. The pangs are particularly sharp when he’s mad at me and doesn’t want hugged at all.

My only consolation: If I think I’m melancholy now, it’s not nearly as bad as it will be when he’s 17.

“”What comes now is the beginning of goodbye.”"

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Aunt Marilyn said:

    “You nailed it! You never get over those feelings either — when my 42 year old son asks for “”those molasses cookies”" I still get teary!”

  • Debra (author) said:

    I think I’ll be sick of that banana cake by the time Little Guy’s 42. But I’m sure I’ll still bake it for him anyway. The kid can work those eyes!

  • Kids Allergy (author) said:

    Egg-free banana pound cake

    Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved. …