Always Real, School

So Big, So Small

As I was getting ready to walk Sean to school today, I looked in the bathroom mirror to see him standing behind me, dressed and ready to go.  I was surprised to see that he had on the clothes that I had laid out for him.  Usually, he will wear anything BUT the clothes I lay out.  We are in that stage.

I noticed that he had his shirt on backwards, as usual.  It’s not his fault.  He is genetically predisposed.  Nine times out of ten I’ll put my shirt on backwards too, which in and of itself is amazing given the 50/50 odds.  Wearing a shirt backwards is not too bothersome, unless you are coming out of a dressing room and you don’t notice it until you are in the food court in the mall.  Not that that’s ever happened to me. No, I’m just saying it could.  I also noticed that his hair was a crazy mess, also genetic, and he looked a little bit like a cross between an elf and Howdy Doody.  The sum of those parts made me smile.

Along with the backwards shirt, the pants he had on were ridiculously small — so small, that he couldn’t fasten the snap.  I am pretty sure that it was just earlier in the week that I had cinched up the adjustable waist band in these pants as far as it would go and rolled up the cuffs.  Apparently children really DO grow overnight.

I would have liked for him to change into pants that fit, but once you have your shoes on, changing pants is a terrific chore, and he could not be persuaded.  So I let out the adjustable waistband as far as it would go and through the force of will and magic, I managed to snap his pants.  If worse comes to worse today and the pants won’t stay snapped, he’ll just have to wear his shirt out.  Which I freely admit, I’ve done myself a time or two in recent years.

Maybe it was the pants, or maybe it was my own uneven hormones, but as we trotted to school, something about him just seemed bigger today than yesterday.  Or it could be that since he makes me run the whole half mile to school carrying his backpack, I was a little light headed and my perception was skewed.

Usually I walk him into the school and to his classroom but today I decided that I would stop at the edge of the school yard and let him take it from there.  I handed off his backpack and told him I’d see him later.  He took off running towards the school, stopped abruptly and turned to blow me a kiss and then ran the rest of the way into the building without looking back.

I stood there at the top of the hill, watching him run towards the school, taking note of the too-small pants, the too-big backpack, his copper hair bouncing and sparkling in the morning sun.  I watched him as he disappeared into the sea of children flowing into the school and suddenly he didn’t look so big anymore.  He looked small, really small, three-year-old small. And three-year-old’s have no business walking into a big school by themselves.

How did he go from being so big to so small on the half-mile walk to school?  How does that happen?

I sighed and shook my head in disbelief.  Or maybe I was shaking off something else.

I turned and headed home so that I wouldn’t act on the urge to go get him and take him home with me.

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28 thoughts on “So Big, So Small

  1. Mine got to wear PJs to school today — some “positive behavior reward.” He wears holes in the knees of his pants before we have to worry about the waist getting too small. “Yes, Cutie, you’re getting pants for Christmas. I hope you enjoy them.” LOL.

  2. I was sorting through digital pictures last night, to find the Best of 2010 for the calendars I make each year. And I was startled to see my six-year-old son’s face, just last December, looking so decidedly young. His cheeks were still chubby and his eyes had a certain innocence to them. Today, just 12 months later, his face has slimmed and his pants are too short and his hair is long and his eyes are alive with the joy of living.

    I went to bed overwhelmed with blessings, but also with a heavy heart. I wish I could slow down time.

  3. I know this feeling all too well. I look at my 21 year old, who has now grown a beard, but I see a two year old who I want to pull onto my lap. I think sometimes that helped me get me through the tough teen years.

  4. “a cross between an elf and Howdy Doody”

    Love the visual I get from this statement! You are the best!

  5. Watching them grow is so bittersweet. It is so breathtakingly wonderful to see them becoming the character God has created them to be, and so sad to know that you will never get to experience that moment again.

    Now that my “baby” is four that whole paradigm really hits me deep sometimes, especially not knowing if I’ll ever be afforded the opportunity to do it with another child.

    It’s such a reminder to slow down and savor every single moment God gives you.

    Thanks!

  6. That happens to my Bean, too! Big Girl at home, all independence and maturity; baby climbing onto the bus and waving ‘bye to me with a teeny pink-mittened hand out that HUGE window. {Empathy!} You capture the moment and the feeling so beautifully here. xo

  7. I must be hormonal because this post just made me cry. Why? I know that kids are supposed to grow up but damn, they seem to do it over night and I’m just not ready. I’ll be in my room blowing my nose. Just ignore me.

  8. It goes so fast… We let our seven-year-old run the last block alone to school, too, and it’s heart-wrenching every single day to see him disappear among the other kids.

    Turns out they do, in fact, grow overnight — somebody did some study where they measured the kids daily, and they stay the same size for a while, and then go through a period of two or three days where they can grow up to an inch.

    My kid used to get a little chubbier between growth spurts, and then just suddenly streeetch — and the too-tight pants would suddenly fit the waist again, but they’d be too short.

  9. Its a Hallmark card. And a sigh. And tons of blessings. All wrapped up in one in this one, AM.

    My 32 year old boy just called. And although his voice sounds like a man’s, he still giggles and gets excited about the same kind of things he did when he was 3.

  10. It’s so strange that you wrote about this today. This morning our four-year-old got up from the table to wash his hands, and he no longer needs a boost from us. We still have to turn the water on, but his arms are long enough now to reach the water. I even commented on how it seemed like yesterday that he needed our help to reach that far.

    It goes by so fast.

    * * *
    Those kinds of moments sneak up on you and then tip toe past, even though you think you’re really paying attention. One day you look up and realize you don’t remember the last time you boosted them up to the sink, or bathed them in the sink, or walked them to their classroom, or ….

  11. Both of my kids have really grown recently– I caught my Jessica talking about the red mark around her waist… she needed new underwear and I had no clue.
    I am so glad I take lots of pictures so that I can–err– next week look back at all the growth they have made. 🙂

  12. Oh yes, I was weeping yesterday in the car thinking about looking at colleges for our 16-year-old. She seems so grown and then sometimes she’s just a little girl. But my hormones are reminding me that I only have 2 short years left until she leaves. Oh no, I’m going to start blubbering again . . .

  13. My son is 14yrs old now and he was 2yrs old just a minute ago, so I’m trying to continue to enjoy all the little moments because in just under 4 yrs he’ll be moving away to college! without me! and if the first 14 went by that fast I’m pretty sure this next 4 will zoom by.

  14. AM, I thought of this post this morning at the bus stop and for some reason it made me chuckle instead of cry. I only have my youngest son (8) who rides the elementary bus now, but the routine is they get on the bus and then we wave to each other as it drives away. I wave ’til it’s all the way past me because sometimes I can’t see them through the dark windows. If for some reason I forget to wave (talking to another parent, etc.) I would always hear about it after school. Also, one year there was a little girl who came up to me at back to school night and asked if I was going to wave to everybody on the bus again this year–haha! Of course! Anyway, this morning my little guy got on the bus and I could see him sitting there looking away–probably talking to a friend–but waving at me over his shoulder. Made me laugh.

  15. I was the head cook and one of the lesson presenters at the teen girls’ retreat this past weekend. My daughter was in attendance. Saturday night as I hugged her close before she went to sit with another “non-makeup” girl to poke some (nice) fun at the “give me more makeup” girls, I said, “I’m glad I’m here with you, ’cause if I weren’t, I’d be missing you.”

    And even though we were in the same room, as I sat with the moms, and she sat with the girls having her own conversations and smiling and most decidedly NOT coming to sit in my lap like she did “just yesterday”. . .I still missed her a little bit.

  16. I don’t want to slow down time or stop it. I just wish that I could go back and visit them at the newborn, toddler stage, etc. I would choose moments when they were clean and cuddly, not stinky and yelling. This would be perfect. I would also revisit them every birthday.
    Sigh. I’m off to hug my teenagers now.

  17. ahhhhhhh, a big hug to you, AM, from a mom of 18 and 20 year old girls who i swear were 5 and 7 just yesterday! posts like yours always leave me misty eyed.

  18. My husband and I have had similar conversations so often the last few weeks. Sometimes we look at our son and say, “He looks so big! When did he get so big?” Then we’ll put him in his pajamas and I’ll think, “Oh, he’s such a little thing. He’s still our baby boy.” And then he’ll do something that seems so grown up and my heart about bursts. My parents say that kind of thinking never ends.

  19. So true. It is funny how one minute we are thinking they are so grown up and then the next I see my five year old so tiny and filling such a small part of his big bed. If only we could slow down time just a little…

  20. This is why I love reading you (now that I’m back to having time to read blogs). You notice little details and stop to admire the beauty and the change. It encourages me to do the same. Sean sounds like he’s still the same lovely little soul.

  21. I have no idea how I came across your website, but I absolutely LOVE this photo!! Every year in the fall I try to capture a shot just like this, but it always ends up blurry or the kids have aleady reached the pile… 🙂 Anyway, I’m glad I found your blog, great pic!

    * * *
    The original photo was not so great other than I caught him in mid-air. I got the painterly effect using Topaz Simplify, a Photoshop plug-in. I love the Topaz plug-ins, they are awesome.

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