Last night I dreamed that my son was a baby. He toddled up to me at the dinner table and I scooped him into my arms and cradled him while I visited with dinner guests. Then I asked him if he was sleepy and he nodded, so I released him (obviously planning to escort him to a nap) and he disappeared. I found him after several frantic moments – he was toddling around the house with my Aunt Penny. She was showing him different household items and teaching him their purposes. Aaron was absorbing it all, even with that sleepy little smile on his face. The dream was sweet and real and comforting.
And then I woke up. Life has a way of doing that to us, doesn’t it?
The truth of the matter is that I think I am not dealing well with my son growing up. Some co-workers and I chatted about this the other day (they are my built-in, always-on-call therapists). One mentioned that it seems easier watching girls grow up because they mature in small spurts and then plateau for a little while, so you have some time to get used to the growth. It sort of snuggles up to you and butters you up for the next big thing so that whatever lies just ahead isn’t such a mind-blower.
Boys’ growth just bitch-slaps the hell out of you and then moves on.
Aaron got his braces off last week. We’ve had a busy start to the school year, but it has been manageable, expected. Or so I thought. At this particular appointment, one orthodontic assistant came out to talk to me while others were finishing up with Aaron. She gave me a brief rundown on the progress of the treatment and then said, “It’s also time to get his wisdom teeth evaluated for extraction.”
Without thinking I blurted, “NO!”
Her eyes grew wide and she took a step back. “I’m sorry,” she said – it was half statement, half question.
I felt tears stinging the back of my eyes. Get it together, Lori. This lady did not look old enough to have kids at all, let alone a teenager, so the odds of her completely understanding my outburst were slim.
“No, I’m sorry,” I said, softening my voice, but still unable to control its shaking. “This is all too fast. You don’t understand – just two months ago he was four inches shorter. We shopped for clothes in the boys’ section last spring, and we shopped in the men’s section last week. He just turned 15, is about to start driving, and when he speaks, I turn to see what man has just come into my home.” There was no dawning recognition on her face, so I continued to sputter. “Now you want to talk about wisdom teeth, which I didn’t have to think about until I was in college – I can’t – I just can’t go there right now.”
She smiled, but pressed on. “Do you have an oral surgeon that your family uses already?”
My mind was still on my baby, who used to swing his feet from the booster in the backseat, but who now fills the backseat with barely enough room for his legs, another fact that slapped me in the face just the week prior. So I absently said, “No, my oral surgeon died.”
“Well, you don’t want to use him, then,” she retorted, which made me laugh out loud and sort of shook me back to reality. Aaron appeared behind her and we chatted about retainers and such before leaving with a bag full of every type of candy his braces had prevented him from eating in the last two years – and the business card of a local oral surgeon.
Touché, Life. Touché.