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I miss these guys...

 

 My son parked behind me again.  No matter how many times I tell him not to park behind my car, he does it anyway.  It drives me crazy.

“Greg!  Move your car.”

“I will.  Just let me… (insert any of the following) make a sandwich, find out the score of the game, get something to drink, grab my workout clothes, finish texting).  Doesn’t matter.  He’ll forget.

I can’t believe my youngest child is driving.  Whenever I picture him in a vehicle, it’s a Big Wheel tricycle.  I can see him whizzing around the Cul de Sac with the wind in his hair and a toothless grin on his face.

 “Look, Mommy!”  he’d call before he did a “spin-out” by braking fast and sharply turning his handlebars.   He really believed he was performing a daring feat, so no matter how many times he did it, I always acted amazed…and frightened.

“Oh, no!  Don’t do that, Greg.  You’re scaring me.”

His response was always the same.

“It’s okay.  I’m big enough now.”

“You’re so brave.”

His eyes sparkled with pride.

I wonder when he rode his Big Wheel for the last time?  Obviously, he didn’t know it would be the last time.  How could he?  It just happens.  I wonder if he would’ve known ‘this is it…this will be the last spin out, the last screech of the wheels against the sidewalk I’ll ever make’ would he have cherished the moment?  I know I would have.

It seems when he got off his Big Wheel that night, he thought he’d ride it the next morning.  Instead, the plastic, low-rider, tricycle collected dust and took up room in our garage until we moved. 

Life is full of those moments–the last time we do something.  When I pushed Greg on the swings as he said, “High-oh, Mommy!  I wanna be in “other” space!” I didn’t realize it would be the last time before he learned to pump his legs.  If I’d have known, I might have pushed him for a few minutes longer.

Greg had a thing about “other space” spaceships and aliens.  I remember always picking up his little plastic aliens from the driveway—the kind from gumball machines and Dollar Stores.  He had a huge collection.  I wish I would’ve stopped whatever I was doing and watched the last time he dumped out his bucket of little aliens to set up another battle on the driveway.  He did this all the time, but oddly, I don’t have a single picture of him doing it.  Why?  Maybe, at the time, it seemed too ordinary to pull out the camera.  Or, I thought I’d catch it ‘next time.’

I’d love to see a video of him drawing boundaries with bright chalk lines on the driveway like a map.  Although Gregory was very creative in his drawings; he was never very strategic.  It was always the same.  He’d lined them up on either side the chalk borders facing each other– alien vs. alien.  How he chose which ones he’d knock down and which ones he’d let stand in triumph, I’ll never know.  What was I doing that was so important that I never asked him?

As he made his way down the line, he’d make them grapple a moment in his hands as he made snarling and fighting noises.  Other times, he used his giant 20-inch Godzilla to mow them all down leaving a colorful alien annihilation across my driveway.  Yes, I’d love to have video of Gregzilla lumbering down the line of aliens kicking them over with Godzilla’s feet.

“Greg, if you’re finished playing with them, you need to pick them up.”

“I will, Mommy.  Just after I… (insert any of the following) find my red ball, look for worms, hop on one leg ten times, hide until you find me.”  It didn’t matter.  He’d forget.

Just when does a boy step over the line and become a young man?  It’s hard to tell, which is why I believe ‘coming of age’ stories are so popular. 

Since it is Monday and I’m supposed to be doing a book review, I’ve listed several of my favorite classic “coming of age” books in no special order.  Please feel free to add some to the list.

  1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  2. Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Once your child crosses that bridge into young adulthood, you cherish memories of scraped knees healed by a Mommy kiss and a Spider Man bandage.  You’ll laugh at the dirty handprints on the back of your clean blouse because he just had to hug you one more time before you left.  You’ll always remember how he greeted you with a muddy fist full of Dandelions when you returned.

Now it’s curfews, SAT scores, driver’s license drama, video games, football and girls.  Instead of hamming it up in front of the camera like he used to, he hates to be photographed.

Birthdays and recitals make great pictures, but I’d love have more photos of the ordinary, everyday things my boys did when there seemed to be no reason to take the camera out at all.    You won’t know when it will be the last time they do something.

Godzilla is long gone, lost in another move.  However, the bucket of plastic aliens is safe on the top shelf in his closet.  Next time we move, they’re coming with me in the car.

Where’s my camera?  I’m going to take a picture of his car parked behind mine.  Someday, I might remember it with fondness.

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