Eleven years ago today I heaved my swollen body out of our green Ford Escort wagon and waddled up Solano Avenue with Paul and the crowd, stopping to listen to musicians, sampling the spicy fare at ethnic food stands and browsing the booths of local artisans. The 2nd Sunday in September is always the date of the Solano Stroll, a street fair that extends 1.2 miles and spans two cities. On that Sunday in 1998, I was 9+ months pregnant, and three days past my due date. Stimulated by the long walk and all that spicy food, Abraham decided to start his campaign that night and finally arrived 20 hours later on the evening of September 14th.
Now, 11 years later, I watched from the window as he left the house armed with just $10 and his cell phone, off to meet a friend at the Stroll. He was reluctant to leave the house at first...dragging a bit from our already busy day. But once he and his friend agreed by phone on a meeting place, his pace and mood picked up. I could see his energy change from my post at the window.
Eleven years later, then, I am still pushing him out, though with less fanfare and pain. He walks or bikes to school now, meets up with friends in public places, and shops for groceries at our local market. Sometimes he needs a nudge toward independence, but mostly he's ready for this freedom and is responsible enough to have earned it.
And while I'm helping him gain independence, I'm also holding him close, aware that he's growing up quickly. After the "little kids" go to bed, we've fallen into the fragile habit of a nightly chat. We sit companionably in the family room....me with my computer, he with his book. I'm always poised for conversation but don't want to appear overly eager so I wait for him to initiate.
He talks mostly about middle school. His transition to the bigger more chaotic environment has been stunning. New friends, new sports, new confidence and calm. I've trained myself to relax noncommittally into the cushions whenever his enthusiasm peaks or frustration rears and listen calmly and openly. I'm trying to say "hmmm" and "oh" a lot, even when I want to say "WHAT!?" or "WOW!" because I've heard that "hmms" and "ohs" are more likely to earn you a seat on your child's "advisory board".
I'm relishing his maturity and openness and wondering how long he'll let me stay in this inner circle of his thoughts.
Hopefully another eleven years....at least!