Walking Tall

mom & son
Something upset my son recently, and it took me rather by surprise. None of the usual suspects were to blame, like me snooping through his iPhone, or subjecting him to my passive-aggressive parenting techniques (yet again!) or me nagging him to put his dirty clothes in the hamper for the bazillionth time.
What propelled him into a moody funk was something quite small, measuring merely one-quarter of an inch.
When the nurse measured his height at his yearly physical the other day, it was confirmed that he is a full 1/4 inch taller than me.
Yep, my baby, my one and only, the love of my life, was officially taller than his mom.
I can attest to the fact that all the clichés are true – kids grow up so fast, don’t blink or you’ll miss it, the days are long but the years are short. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I reveled in his squeals of hysterical delight as I pretended to be the Cookie Monster, munching on all his delicious little cookie toes? Today you couldn’t pay me enough to go near those very non-cookie smelling feet, but I digress.
Actually I’m kind of excited that soon he’ll probably be quite a bit taller than me – any day now I can retire the step stool I use in the kitchen to reach stuff in the high cabinets; I’m always tripping over that damn thing.
But while I was figuring out all the ways I could use his height to my advantage, it turns out that his view on this recent development was less than positive.
When I called him for dinner later that day, I found him in his room going through a pile of Matchbox cars that hadn’t seen the light of day in years – not really playing with them, but just turning them over in his hands – considering them.
“Honey, what are you doing?” I asked.
“Nothing. Just visiting my childhood” he answered.
Ugh. Smelling the angst in the air, I asked him what was up.
“I don’t want to be taller than you” he said quietly.
“That’s what’s bothering you? Not wanting to be taller than me?” I responded.
Shrugging his shoulders, he said “I guess I’m just not ready to grow up.”
Ah, there it was. He wasn’t considering the cars. He was considering what they represented. The journey to grown-up is a bumpy one, and you never know what might trip them up along the way. Just as my heart swells with pride and love and joy for my teenage man-child,  right then it ached with the growing pains he was experiencing, perhaps more child than man at that moment.
“It’s okay to feel this way; there’s a lot going on with school and friends and other stuff, and sometimes it’s nice to think back to when times were simpler. We just have to talk about it when you’re feeling this way, okay? “
Having witnessed enough push-up and arm-wrestling contests to realize that we’ve arrived at the competing-with-dad portion of the program, I attempted to lighten the mood by asking, “Well, how are you going to feel when you’re taller than dad?”
Brightening at the bait he said, “Oh no, that’s different –  I can’t wait to be taller than dad!” Who, by the way, is considerably taller than me – I guess logic doesn’t play well with puberty!
Being one half of a mother/son bond equation himself, I sought my husband’s perspective when I told him about our exchange later that evening. He wasn’t surprised at all by our son’s reaction. Raising his hand up over his head, he explained, “Because in his eyes, you’ll always be up here.  🙂

41 thoughts on “Walking Tall

  1. My daughter is 18 almost 19 and still can’t grasp this growing up thing. She enjoys the thrills of dating, driving, etc — the fun things that come with growing up, but still struggles to accept the responsibility that comes with it. So many times she has told me, “I wish I was a kid again.” On those days we kick back, watch a Disney movie, blow some bubbles, she lets me brush her hair, and we digress. Sometimes even an adult child needs to be a kid again and I enjoy every minute of it as does she.

  2. good post. don’t you let him get rid of his Matchbox cars. put them in a shoebox for later on when he has kids. it will amaze him that you remembered to set them aside so he could share with his kids.

  3. Love this piece. My oldest son (16) is a good 6 inches taller than me and my youngest (12) is nearly as tall!
    I think it’s sweet that he isn’t ready to grow up. Too many kids are rushing to do just that!

  4. Such a sweet sentiment. It’s always so hard as an adult to see the perspective of our children – the things we just know because of our years on this planet often come as a complete surprise to our kids. Sometimes it comes with wonderment, and sometimes with utter confusion. I always believed I’d be older than my brother one day – constantly reminding him every time he wound me up. I was devastated the day I found out this was impossible.

  5. I have been on your path 4 times. Our number 4 son will be leaving the nest this summer. You articulated it very well. Extra kuddos to your husband for his insightful comment.

  6. Wonderful post. Both my children (son 19, daughter 16) are now taller than me. It mostly hits me when I see photos. Then I become sentimental. Even though they are growing into strong caring adults, they both hold on to things from their childhood and like you said, that’s ok. They have long lives ahead so it’s alright if childhood and adulthood overlap a little. 😊

    • Thank you so much for reading! I’m also entering that phase where looking at old photos make me misty, and I also have older nieces who are now starting families of their own; seeing their babies brings it all back!

  7. Yes, I can relate to this a bit from the mother/daughter perspective. My rising 10 year old is tall for her age and looks like a young teenager. I panicked when she was invited to a 13 year old birthday party to stay roller skating until midnight, yet I think she’s too old to have her party at the American Girl store. She is dabbling in lip gloss and fingernail polish, but still wants stuffed animals. It must be hard to be a tween. I guess the best thing we can do, like you are, is to keep the lines of communication open during this transition and beyond.

    • Wow, sounds like you also have your hands full! I remember being that age and still playing with dolls when all my friends had moved on from them, and I wasn’t quite ready to let go! Whether it’s dolls or cars, that fine line is hard to walk at that age. Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey!

    • Oh no! That hasn’t happened yet, right now we have the same shoe size, and I keep threatening to wear his sneakers – he doesn’t like that at all! Thanks for reading and your kind words!

  8. That was the best story! I’m far from the stage of teenage angst, but I have been working with teenagers for 15 years and get how they can be. The ending though, with your husband’s explanation was so sweet it brought a tear to my eyes.

    • When my husband said that it hit me like a ton of bricks! He reveres his mom, and knowing that my son feels that way about me is overwhelming (in a good way) and such a big responsibility. Thank you for your kind words!

    • Thank you! I think being the big sister to three younger brothers helped tremendously to prep for this – not so sure what I would’ve done with a daughter! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Pingback: Every Day Mom Link-up 4-16-15 | From diapers and tutus to meetings and boardrooms

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