His viral illness has manifested itself with symptoms of a general lack of interest in all things academic (homework in particular) with his job, his friends, and track taking priority. Further, he is already preparing for certain activities he has planned this summer.
For his mother, however, the symptoms of senioritis are entirely different. They include fits of nostalgia, sadness, and unexplained crying. It’s not that I’m not happy for him, because I am. It’s the realization that a precious era of parenthood is coming to a close and a new one is beginning.
Some mothers that I have met seem to have this letting-go thing down pat. They blithely send their babies out into the world and eagerly move on to the next thing. I’m not there yet. Like a PowerPoint presentation, scenes from this boy’s life click through my mind.
There he is as a newborn, all 8 lb. 10 oz. of him, with a headful of dark hair. There is great excitement on both sides of the family as they welcome the very first grandchild and nephew.
Here he is as a toddler, waking up with a smile every morning. Oh, and there he is, toddling out of the apartment while his mother is at work and his father is sleeping. This shot is of him taking off when his mother’s back was turned, running across two parking lots, dodging two old ladies, nearly getting hit by a car, and standing poised at the edge of a busy street when his mother caught up to him.
This is the boy who was born speaking like an adult. As a two year old, he informed his father one day that he was “fussadated (frustrated).” Once, while suffering through a time-out at the age of three, he called from his room asking if his time was up. When I said yes, he called back, “Oh, I’m so exceedingly glad!”
Here he is at four or five, already picking out pretty little girls and keeping a running list of who was on and who was off. One day while driving, he overheard me telling his father that a little girl from church wanted to marry him. “I’m not marrying her,” he huffed from his booster seat. “Why not?” we asked. “Because. She’s not on my list.”
This is Jordan on his first day of school. When the teacher gently, but firmly closed the door, signaling to a group of anxious mamas that it was time to leave, this one went out to the car and cried.
Someone once said that choosing to have a child is choosing to have your heart walk around outside your body for the rest of your life. I know this is true. I used to send a note to his teacher on the first day of school that began something like this, “Dear teacher, every day my heart walks into your classroom in the shape of a boy in blue jeans with rooster tails…” The only thing that’s different now is the size of the boy.
This one is from sixth grade when he broke his arm in a scooter accident. And here he is as a 12 year old at his baptism, coming up out of the water in a white robe. That’s his father there on the banks of the pond, waiting to greet his son with a fresh towel, a hug, and words of love whispered in his ear.
In the next frame, he’s an incoming freshman getting in shape for football by running the perimeter of our property and discovering instead that he was born to run. This next picture is one of my favorites. That’s him on the cross country team where he found his niche, his best buddies, and a whole lot of self-esteem. He told us once that when he runs, the roar of the crowd is all a blur, but he can nearly always hear our two voices.
The last one in the queue is his senior portrait. I don’t know how we got here so fast. In the blink of an eye, he grew up. As his father says, “Enough with the blinking!”
As parents, we eagerly celebrate the boys’ “firsts.” It’s the “lasts” that are tough. I know, though, that every “last” brings another “first,” so as we mourn just for a bit the end of an era, we will celebrate with joy the beginning of a new one. Wherever he goes and whatever he does, he can know that there will always be two voices calling his name, offering words of love and pride and encouragement.
Congratulations to a fine young man and to the class of 2008. Go Panthers!