Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dear Joe-Henry

My Sweet Boy,
I have been writing on here a lot of late about how quickly you seem to be growing up. Your dad and I mention this to you on occasion, usually after your bath when we see your looooong legs sticking out of the towel, or when you give me a hug while I'm in the kitchen and I don't have to bend down at all to retrieve it. On the contrary, I know that soon, you will be the one bending down to hug me.

But lately you have been coming at me with other evidence that you are growing up. These aren't physical reminders but emotional ones, and it's especially hard right now on your old mom. I've been sick for what seems like forever and my emotions (along with my intellect) seem to have suffered a direct hit because of it. When I feel this way, I am no match for your arguing, or your descriptions of football or lightsaber battles on your video games, or indeed for your confession that you want to marry M. In fact, you can't wait until you're eighteen so you can kiss her and date her and (here you look at me, your eyes wide, and when you catch my eyes you break into a fit of laughter and hide under your pillow).

If I weren't such a mess right now, I might be able to handle this in a more authoritative manner. I do my best anyway, I summon all my resources to let you know that you are still so young to be thinking these thoughts, and that M., your good good friend, might have a bad reaction to this news were you to confess it. She is still a child in second grade, unlike you, because suddenly you are at least fourteen (all evidence to the contrary: second grade homework and boy's size six shirts) and I don't know when it was that I blinked and missed those years.

When I tell you these things, you say "I know, I know", and I'm ashamed to say that I miss the old soul, the one who looked at situations with caution, the one who sought my advice and actually listened to it. I know that this is only the veeeeery tip of the lifelong beginning of my wishing that you would slow down FOR ME. Because nature has a way of leaving us parents behind. I did it to my own dad, so I know where of I speak.

But at least I was a bit older. Twelve, to be exact. My dad wouldn't let me go steady with Todd Johnson. I did it anyway. Even though it meant that I had to go out to the field at recess and sit next to him and hold his clammy hand. And he made fun of me. Honey, I didn't even really like this boy. But when he "broke up with me" after one day I was crushed. I will tell you here that this moment in time played itself out many, many times before I finally listened to my dad about men. When I was dating your daddy, and we were having a rough patch, I cried to him about something he said to me; something I thought was unnecessarily mean but in reality was just honest. I'd been fooled for so long into thinking that "nice" meant "polite", when sometimes the nicest thing someone can do is call you on your crap. Luckily, your grandpa said something that I will always remember, and is maybe the single best piece of advice I've ever received:

It's not what people say, it's what they do.

But I digress.

My sweet son, I think what it is that I want, as always, is to protect you. When you were just learning to walk, I rarely took you to the playground because the other kids seemed so lumbering, so perpetually moving and screaming with no care for what small obstacles were in their way and I didn't want you to get hurt. Eventually I caved and did anyway, knowing somewhere in my mother's heart that it was my job to expose you to this dangerous world.

And now, I just, aaaghhhh. My throat catches.

I just want you to be a kid for a while longer. Please, slow down. Romance will come in it's time, along with the inevitable heartbreak that most always accompanies it. Because with all of our scientific advances, no one has, as yet discovered a cure for a broken heart. Time and maturity and wisdom can help heal it. But you are only eight. You haven't even lost all your teeth yet. You still want to see Winnie The Pooh first at Disneyland.

And my sweetie - selfishly? I want you to be mine for just a few years more.

With all the love in my heart,


kari said...

Wow, you're breaking my heart. Continued best wishes on your amazing journey.

I, Rodius said...

Hugs. I love reading these posts of yours and thinking about what life will be like when a few more years have blasted past. Why do they go by so quickly?

*Lissa* said...

Wow! Eight, huh? I find myself thinking the same thing with my nine-year-old daughter.

Beautiful post Annie, and you are right, they do grow up too fast.

suttonhoo said...

now I'm the dope crying.

J-H is so lucky to have you as his mom, pretty lady.