“This is your last year.”
He’s saying it with a smile as he lets himself surrender, folding more deeply into my arms.
I’m with Jeb at the bus stop in early morning with only one other carload of drop-offs behind us.
I act as though I don’t understand but I have a good sense of where he’s heading.
“Yep, when I’m 11, no more of this.”
He nestles in for a final soak-in of mother love, then pulls away like a mischievous elf. “This is your last year…”
“Oh, really?!” I grab him back and pull him towards me as he giggles and squirms. “Last year, hah! We’re going to be hugging for the rest of our lives!”
“Na-uh! Last year, mom.” He moves away and opens the car door, putting one foot outside but remaining in his seat, smirking.
“Jeb, when all of your friends think they’re too cool to hug their moms, you’re going to be the coolest one because you’ll still be doing it and not caring what anyone else thinks.” (Might as well plant the seed).
“Ehhh…I’ll start hugging you again in my twenties.”
Where is he getting this?
The kids in the car behind us have unloaded and one of the boys is anxiously watching for Jeb’s exit from our vehicle. This time I get a rapid, cursory movement somewhat resembling an affectionate gesture, followed with an upbeat “Bye!”
And then he’s gone and I’m driving away.
Last year. Pfft.
Well, this may be the last year for some things. At day’s end, just before dinner, Jeb comes into the house spitting blood into the bathroom sink like a triumphant boxer.
“I was watching the sunset and just decided, now I’m going to do it. And I pulled as hard as I could and it came out.”
Jeb’s tooth rolls clean and white in his open palm as he spits again like a tough guy into the sink. “It hurt a little bit but not too much.”
At bedtime he shows me exactly where he’s stashed the envelope housing his tooth. “It’s just right here under this pillow, mom.”
“Ok, well, I’ll be sure to tell the tooth fairy,” and we give each other the secret smile that is so old now, we both know it is outgrown.
I think this may be the last year of losing teeth. It is also probably the last year that Jeb and I will wear the same size shoe.
But the last year of hugs?