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Sometimes I Forget He’s Still a Kid

photo(10)That young person sitting on the pediatric exam table is my 11-year-old son, Boy Wonder.

I know one look at his sweet baby face and abbreviated stature is all it takes to remind you that he’s still a kid, but for me — the woman who birthed him — I regularly forget.

As the mother of another, much younger son, I have a tendency to view Boy Wonder as mature beyond his years. With grown-up interests and an obvious desire to speed through his development, his old soul makes it dangerously easy to forget that he’s still a child.

When I took him to the pediatrician’s office last week for the two booster shots required for 7th grade registration, I paused for a moment to process the awkwardness of Boy Wonder seated on the exam table, spine curved, legs dangling nervously, looking wildly out of place in front of Curious George wall art.

He remained silent, swinging his legs back and forth, stopping only once to mutter, “I’m scared to get the shots.”

As the nurse walked in, Boy Wonder glanced in my direction as single tear spilled from each eye. Watermarked cheeks suddenly left him looking so young, small, and belonging in this child-centered space. Reaching out to me with unspoken panic, I held each hand in mine while the nurse administered a single shot in each arm.

All done and sporting Iron Man bandages, he promptly wiped each eye with its nearby shoulder — like a man.

As we walked out of the pediatrician’s office, Boy Wonder grabbed hold of my hand as a gesture of contentment — something he hadn’t done with his clammy, boy-dirty hands for so long. For a brief moment, I remembered the times he grabbed on tight as a toddler, never wanting to let go. The times when he couldn’t wait to lead me to wherever he was going. To think I’d almost forgotten that.

Walking hand-in-hand with my boy back to the car, he leaned his head on my shoulder, prompting me to make a silent and selfish wish:

Slow down. Be still. Be young. And be mine for just a little longer.

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