There are the more obvious signs – like frequent trips to the store to buy new clothes – that our kids grow like weeds. K-Man, for example, sorta skipped his 3-T phase and jumped straight into 4-T. (By the way, the whole kids' clothing thing is such a scam. The prices for a square of fabric put any gas prices to shame. And, I just don’t really ever get the sizes. T? What the hell is a T? But I digress). While the clothes may ultimately make the man, the actions make the boy. Nothing highlights K-Man’s growth like his ability to do things that he couldn’t previously do.
We went to our favorite local pizza joint the other day (you know the place – the one with the video games and quarter-driven motorcycle). The last time we were there, K-Man tried to get up on the motorcycle, but couldn’t pull it off. This time (only a couple of weeks later), the kid ran to the bike, put his left foot on the peg, threw his right foot over the bike and started riding like a champ.
Last Friday at the fabulous outdoor concert we went to, K-Man climbed a pole that had previously been nothing more than a frustration. This time? He grabbed on above his head and pulled himself up and then slid down. (Over and freaking over.)
He now jumps from the top step in our bedroom to the floor (only two steps, but it’s quite a hop!). He climbs over the back of our couch without a THUMP! He jumps off the couch to the floor (much higher than those two steps). And, poolside, he’ll jump off the side into waiting arms without any hesitation. In short, the boy’s “fear factor” has basically been turned off. (Which may mostly be showcased by his ability to walk up to any girl he sees with an outstretched hand: “Hi. I’m Kolby.” You go, kid.)
Obviously, as a parent, I want him to explore and try all kinds of new things as he grows. But, his absence of fear sometimes only serves to add to mine. He was climbing on a jungle gym at the park with at least five or six other kids. All of these kids were older and bigger than he was. He was having a ball. I was having a coronary. As he made his way onto a bar that was at least six feet off the ground, I started a mad dash toward him. You’d think someone had thrown a grenade in his direction that I was gonna dive on at all costs.
K-Man greeted my overreaction with, “Go away, Daddy!” Ah, a preview of things to come when he’s a teenager. That’s part of growing up, too, I guess: He just knew that his new older friends were thinking, “Dude. Is that your DAD? That’s lame, bro.” K-Man took care of that by blowing me off like a champ. Well played, kid. No harm done.
But what astounds me more than anything is how attentive he is. What must be a true testament to his young maturation is how he puts thoughts together. He hears a tune on the radio and might not sing the same song, but he’ll sing something that might have a similar melody. And, for every time he might say, “Go away, Daddy!” there are the 10 or 20 times when he demands, “Daddy, come in!” It’s these invitations to hang out with him, talk to him, do a puzzle with him and just talk that make his growing up so much fun. So rewarding.
G-d knows I don’t want it to happen too fast.