One night, several weeks ago, I peeked into his bedroom, and saw the baby in his sleeping face. The glimpses of that are so rare now. I gazed from the doorway a long moment, not knowing if I would ever catch that sweet sight again.
I wonder how aware he is of where he stands poised, how much consciousness undergirds the angst he feels as he weighs the little boy's book against the young man's music. I remember being his age, holding my favorite doll and stuffed animal to my breast at night, weeping quietly with the knowledge that I was passing from their world into another, one where I wouldn't be able to hear them speak.
Sometimes I look at my own weathered, sun-spotted hand, and am amazed to think it is the very same hand that once closed around my mother's finger, and grabbed at my father's beard. It feels like we move on as we go through life, but we never leave our own skin. I wonder if my baby self ever visits my face at night.
He chooses the Beatles album, and in spite of--or through--my own poignant projections, I'm pleased. I discovered their music the summer I was eleven, and listened to nothing else until I got through junior high. It's a good map.
We get home and rip the cd to his new MP3 player. Not many "pretend" toys in his pile under the tree this year. I toss it to him over the back of the couch, and he catches it. "Thanks, Mom!" He can rest his chin on my shoulder easily. It's time for braces, and middle school, and talks that I am nowhere near ready to deliver.
He puts on the headphones, and jumps to his feet, bigger than mine. My little boy is gone, I think. Into a world where he won't hear me speak.
Then he skips across the family room like a runaway shadow, and I smile and think, not yet.
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