Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's a Boy.

There is a picture that I love. It's really simple, but it evokes so many emotions for me. It's a photo I took after my son finished his T-Ball season. He is six years old, and he is sitting on a concrete wall with four of his little friends. They are all eating some variation of ice cream - some have cones with sprinkles, some cones are dipped in heinous red hued stuff, one has a bomb pop. They are "all boy" as the saying goes - dirty, hats on crooked, scabby knees, and Dairy Boy ice cream all over their faces. It's beautiful.

I write about this picture because it's ten years later. My little boy is six foot one now, and he still loves baseball. He is a handsome, kind, decent young man. He is intelligent and funny and I am so incredibly blessed to have him. The world is open to him in a way that only teenagers can experience. Remember that? When you thought you grew up and automatically inherited a charmed life? Never mind, this post won't feature my typical acerbic bubble bursting, so we can stop on that thought and move on.

Last week Travis went for his first job interview and will (God willing) begin working at the ice cream shop he visited after his T-Ball season ended ten summers ago. Pardon my naivete', but how did this happen? I know I have been around for the last ten years, the Grand Canyon sized wrinkle between my eyebrows is sad proof. But when did my dirty faced baby get big enough to have a job? When did he speak to a store owner and make the impression that he is "just the kind of young man we are looking for"?

I know. I am not the exception. I am barely the rule. Moms all over the world lament their children growing up behind their backs. But this is me. This is my firstborn. He owns a huge chunk of my heart. He let me mess up and forgave me, many, many times. Bill and I worked hard to teach him respect, manners, compassion, and people believe me, it's not always easy or fun to parent that way. But it's so worth it. I listen to him laugh over his ridiculous Will Ferrell movies and yell at his fellow X-Box players while playing games I don't even want to know about. I will curse the girl(s) who break his heart. I hate the high school coaches who don't see his talent because of the cocky hotshots who preen in front of them. I want to scream "Look at my boy! I've taught him to be mature, to respect his sport, and you don't even notice!" Turd-ly coaches. It makes my heart hurt.

Conversely, when I am sitting in the bleachers, freezing or sweating (depending on the season), and my son drives in the winning run I could ask for nothing more in the world. To see the light in his smile makes tears well up in my eyes in a way that I would normally be mortified about. I thrive on comments from his teachers and other moms who tell me that Travis is the kind of son everyone wants to have. These are the people who matter, I tell myself, not some washed up dude trying to relive his glory days.

We have so much ahead of us. Road tests, proms, graduations, college decisions. Before I know it ten more years will pass and the Grand Canyon wrinkle will divide and conquer my face. I pray he will still be a kind, decent person. I may have moments where I wonder. If I do, I will walk downstairs (where he will probably still live) and see my Ice Cream Boys picture on the bookshelf. And I will smile.

I love you Travis.

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