I had grand plans for a Saturday Six-Pack yesterday, but as often as not, my plans go awry, and I didn't get an opportunity to get it done. Six packs and Sundays don't mix, I've learned from experience (at least until summertime), so we'll head in a different direction... and I'm going to work backwards, because sometimes that's just how things need to be done.
Tonight was my night to read to the boy. Yes, we take turns, and the only time I really object is when The Walking Dead or True Blood is on. We have to do some finagling if Sunday happens to be my night, at least when zombies or vampires are involved. Anyway, that's beside the point. Tonight, midway through a Green Lantern book, I started thinking about a time in the not-so-distant future when Andrew will (maybe?) be too old/too cool to want his old mom lying on the bed with him reading to him. We've read stories with him almost every single night since he came home from the hospital (hence his 7th grade reading level, braggy Mommy moment). But he's not always going to want us to do that, I think...and I will miss it. And damned if I'm not doing it again--mixing the sweet with the bitter, anticipating the bad as the good happens, time-traveling in my brain instead of living in the moment. I just can't help it. But even if I weren't thinking it before, the weekend's events got me thinking about how independent and self-assured this kid of mine is (I have no idea HOW, considering he's my offspring, but I guess it means I'm doing something right?) and how damn fast he has grown up.
I was waiting in the car in the Target parking lot today while the boys ran in to buy a birthday present for Andrew's friend. My current favorite CD was playing, and I was Parking Lot People-Watching (This is one of my favorite things to do, usually in the grocery store lot.) Anyway, in the eleven minutes we were there, two separate young mothers parked near us, one beside, one in front. Both of them had young daughters sleeping in carseats in the back seats, and both went through the process of unbuckling and carrying the still-sleeping toddlers into the store. It made me nostalgic for the many, many times we went through that with Andrew, and a time when he was small enough to carry. He's not now, for sure...he fell asleep on the couch one night a few weeks ago, and I attempted to carry him up the steps to his room and nearly died in the process.
How does this tie together? Well, the whole weekend was full of poignant "Andrew is Growing Up" moments. Friday night, we took him to see Iron Man 3 at the theater. Don't get me wrong, it was a frigging fantastic movie, and Robert Downey, Jr. is H.O.T. hot. But the movie was so action-packed, so "in your face," that I damn near had a panic attack. My heart was pounding, I was cringing, I was actually STRESSED OUT by the stuff going on in some of the action sequences! And there's my kid, my seven year-old kid, just as nonchalant about the whole thing as he could be, and looking at me like I was crazy because I was holding on for dear life and having an adrenaline rush like I was wearing the suit and fighting the bad guy. So there's one.
On Saturday, we attended a graduation party for a dear friend of the family who recently graduated from JMU. It was a lovely, low-key affair, complete with picnic food and impromptu kickball games for the kids. Andrew had never been to the Natural Chimneys and wanted to explore, of course...there are some really cool geologic features! But Andrew discovered a steep hiking trail that went behind the (very high) chimneys, and dragged his dad up to check it out. He asked the right one of us, knowing my fear of heights. He also wanted desperately to go into a cave we found at the base of the chimneys, although he was fearful/smart enough to try to get us to go in first. And later in the day, when I had had enough and was ready to come home, he very casually decided to stay and get a ride home with the friends, because he wasn't finished playing. So, we left him there...in spite of my "Are they going to remember he's there with all those other kids?" and "Hope he doesn't decide to go spelunking or climbing..." thoughts. I watched in the rear view mirror as we drove away, half expecting him to wig out at the last minute and flag us down. But he was focused on kickball and didn't bat an eye. He casually came home several hours later...exhausted and filthy, but fine. There's another!
The piece de resistance, though, was today...a trip to the Massanutten Water Park to celebrate the birthday of one of Andrew's best buds. I was a little hesitant for a few reasons--I wasn't anxious to put my pasty-white ass on display in a bathing suit, for one. I had visions of throngs of screaming kids not being supervised and risking life and limb running on wet concrete. And most of all, I wasn't sure how my kid--my kid who is very cautious around water, my kid who can only doggie paddle and won't put his face the water--was going to handle the whole thing. We got him a life jacket at the beginning, against his protests, but it turned out to be unnecessary. The only place he might have needed it was in the "lazy river," and even that was so well patrolled by life-guards that I felt like I was at Checkpoint Charlie. But this kid of mine went immediately to the water slides...the four-story HIGH water slides, no less and just DID IT with no hesitation...and loved it so much that I couldn't get him back to the lazy river to save my life. I died a little bit the one time I braved the tower to see Andrew heading into the biggest of the slides, the ones you can only do with no tube, and the ones that I had not yet seen the end of...I had no idea where he was headed! But it was fine...(And it turns out it was myself that I should have been worried about. Unlike the kids and every other adult I saw sail flawlessly out of the slide on their tubes and remain above water, I shot out of the god-forsaken thing at a hundred miles an hour, screaming my face off, only to fly off of my tube and end up completely UNDER the water. Thank God my top stayed on, but that was the only way it could have been worse. It was fun, though, in a really, really scary kind of way.) The crux of this portion of the story is that Andrew was, once again, fine without me for long stretches of time and in quite unusual situations.
Suffice it to say that I'm having growing pains. My baby has grown up in the blink of an eye, and I know it will be just another few short blinks before he's driving, graduating, going off to college... and my role will change from protector and provider to mentor and bystander. But I'm going to keep reading to him as long as he'll let me...and maybe someday, he'll read to me.
PS...This guy, this cute little guy in the sushi fish tank at the Chinese restaurant on Mothers' Day? Well, he was gone on Friday night. I'm pretty sure I ate him.