Over the last few weeks, since we returned from Disney World, since Brae started kindergarten up again, and since I went back to work, something almost imperceptible has changed.
But I have noticed it.
And it makes me so very, very sad.
And, a little bit proud.
We are slowly losing Brae.
He is growing up. Our grip on him has loosened. He’s coming into his own. He is a boy. A school-aged kid.
He has his own ideas, opinions, and interests, and he articulates them like an adult.
He has manners (when he chooses to use them) that rivals most colleagues of mine.
He has sleepovers. At other people’s houses. And he packs his own bag.
He picks out his clothes, knows the way he wants to wear his hair, and can make himself his favorite snack.
But, it’s not just these things. If it was just these things, I may feel only a little sad.
But I feel very sad.
And the thing that makes me the most sad is that, when I pick him up from a long day at school, he climbs in the back of the car, and is silent the whole way home. No more gibberish about his days at day care, or his days in preschool. Those days are gone. Instead, he gazes tiredly out the back of the window, watching the world go by. He’s exhausted from a big day of learning, playing, and navigating social norms with kids of all ages. Fatigued by making new friends and keeping the old. Labored by mounting homework, school expectations, and little boy responsibilities. He looks worn from the weight of the world on his tiny, kindergarten shoulders.
This makes me sad because he is experiencing real, grown-up emotions, and doesn’t feel the need to seek me out for comfort. Instead, he just wants to sit with his feelings, and figure them out.
This also makes me a little proud because I feel we have done a good job, so far, of equipping him for the world. He is independent, smart, personable, appropriately cautious, and curious. And yet, if we are to fully complete our job in preparing him, we need to allow him to feel those uncomfortable, unavoidable life feelings, and figure out how to deal with them.
But, he’s also still just a little six-year-old boy, that I see still as my six-month-old firstborn. And, I’m sad that I cannot protect him from uncomfortable feelings, and even sadder that he doesn’t expect me to.