Last night, my 14-year-old son came home from basketball practice, all stinky and sweaty, and he ate a grilled cheese sandwich, potato chips and three bowls of Froot Loops.
He played some Xbox, chilled out on his phone, Snapchatted his friends and watched some Vines, maybe he even texted a few girls? Then he did some homework, argued with his brother, came downstairs for some more food, brushed his teeth and put in his retainer.
Before he went back upstairs, I asked, “Do you want a tuck-in?”
“Sure,” he said.
I followed him up the stairs, my knees cracking the whole way up. He called me an old lady.
He crash-landed onto his bed as I picked up blankets, pillows and clothes from the floor that I knew were clean. I reminded him that the cleaning lady was coming the next day and he’d need to straighten his room before he left for school. He said what he always said when I told him that: “Why do we have to clean up for the cleaning lady?”
“You’ll understand one day when you are a grown-up and you have a house of your own,” I said.
He settled onto his bed and asked me to take off his socks, like I used to when he was really little. I obliged, marveling at his man-like legs, all hair and muscle. When had that happened to my little boy? I had another, just like him, but almost 18 years old, in the room right next door. I didn’t need two of them. I needed my baby.
I tucked him under the covers and he said, “Tell me a story.”
“A story? Come on!”
“You haven’t told me a bedtime story since I was like 10.”
He likes stories about when he was little.
So I thought about it and I told him about the time he lost his first tooth, when he was in kindergarten, and we had gone to McDonald’s with some of his classmates. He was eating his Happy Meal and came to me and said, “Mommy, I ate something plastic in my cheeseburger.”
So I threw away his cheeseburger and then he opened his mouth and a little black space shown through where the pearly little speck of a tooth used to be. I had thrown away his cute little tooth! And yes, what did Mommy do? She dug through that garbage to find her little boy’s first lost tooth. Because there was no way I was going to let my child, even though he was my third kid and I’d been through the Tooth Fairy route a dozen times already, miss his first experience.
After I shared the tooth story with my 14-year-old man-child, he grinned at me and we snuggled for a while. It’s times like these that I truly cherish motherhood. The days are filled with my kids running in and out of the house, asking for rides, for money, for permission for sleepovers or trips to the mall. It’s a non-stop world raising three teens. It was such a nice break to stop and remember a sweet moment with my very, very sweet youngest son. My baby boy. That’s who he’ll always be.