Big Guy learning the meaning of goodbye
"Bye!" Big Guy waved back brightly.
A few steps later, he stopped dead in his tracks.
"Mommy, when's 'next season'?" he asked.
"They start playing in February."
"Oh," he said, pausing again to digest. "Then we might not be here then, right?"
"No, babes, we might not. Everything is kind of confused right now."
"But what baseball team will we watch next season?"
"I don't know, but we'll find one."
Big Guy has known since January that we'll likely move once Dad finishes his training. Then again, we might not - it all depends on how quickly he deploys. We've agreed that if it's in three months or less, it might not makes sense to uproot the guys. On the other hand, finances might force us to.
All of which means that the people Big Guy usually turns to for answers have none right now: Where am I going to be living? Where will I go to school? Will I get to play soccer? Who will my friends be?
All of which, of course, runs through my mind, too. Except I'm a little more experienced at life-altering changes than the average 5-year-old. I don't toss and turn and grind my teeth in my sleep at night over them.
My standard answer: "I'm not sure, but whatever happens your family will be there to love you, and you'll be able to do the things you love to do." It's deliberately vague, because I can't even promise that Dad will be there for long.
The end of the college baseball season was the first event to hit him. That's in part because the games were such a grand time.
Big Guy working at his first "job," a position that involved occasionally assisting and constantly chattering at the ticket taker.
Big Guy learning how to play "War" from one of the coach's sons. Big Guy trailing the same coach's son around until the 8-year-old agreed to play catch with him because, while Big Guy might be little, at least he wasn't his younger brother. It buys social cachet at that age.
Big Guy declaring himself sick of Lunchables and selecting a salad to take for his treat at the last game, and let me tell you that's a bigger miracle than 1969 Mets. "You gotta believe"? I never would have had I not seen it.
Big Guy giving every impression of not paying one bit of attention to what was going on on the field, only to later do a perfect impression of the college hitters. Thank heaven the team drew the line at spitting and avoided that other habit baseball players are noted for.
"Can we come back and see the Warriors next year anyway?"
"Probably not, babes. But we'll find another team."
It's nothing that millions of military kids a year don't go through. It's nothing that my own nieces and nephews didn't survive, though they were born into it. Big Guy's arriving after living in the same house his whole life and settling into his community.
It's nothing that classmates won't go through over the summer as well. One mom said this morning that her family is moving south as soon as school ends - her husband's had to commute on weekends from Los Angeles since the fall in order to find steady work, and it was taking too much of a toll.
So, no, Big Guy is not alone in this. That doesn't make it any easier, though, to watch a 5-year-old awash in a sea of uncertainty.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.