Every morning, after I've downed my heavily-sugared, nonfat-creamered, enormous mug of coffee, I strap on my seatbelt and pull out onto what I like to call the Mommy Turnpike. As the family's "driver", I try to obey the speed limit (unless we're late for soccer practice), and pay all the tolls (field trip money, anyone?), but sometimes, out of the blue, there's something in the road that I just didn't notice until I run over it (don't worry, it's still a metaphor!)
For instance, my children suddenly decided this week to show me that they're not little boys anymore. It started with Derek, who at age 9 apparently just realized he's supposed to be asserting his independence. "Mom, I want to ride my bike to the playground with my friends," he informed me in a calm and reasonable voice. My autopilot mom-response was a resounding NO WAY, but as I opened my mouth to respond, I really couldn't think of a good excuse for the veto. He knows how to look for cars; he's cautious and responsible; the park in question is literally right around the corner...so in the end I said yes, then stood forlornly watching him get smaller as he rode down to the end of the street and disappeared (and I hovered nervously near the window until I saw him pedaling safely back).
Then there was Riley, my "baby" (who by the way objects when I call him that anymore. I can't get away with anything these days!)...just yesterday, I swear, he was a chubby, round-cheeked toddler stretched out on the floor surrounded by his Thomas the Tank Engine trains, making up endless stories as he drove them around for hours. Somehow I thought he would stay this way forever, since he wasn't obsessed with sports like his older brother. But then in June he announced that he wanted to play soccer this fall. "Sure," I thought, "we'll see if he remembers that for a week, much less three months." In fact, he did not change his mind, as I half-expected, and he played his first game last weekend. Wearing his cleats, shinguards, and team shirt, he looked unexpectedly...tall...and thin (with a fierce game face--who knew?)
So I can't imagine how I missed all of this occurring right under my nose. Surely there ought to be informative billboards in life, just like on the side of the road, warning us when such changes are coming! Well, I've learned my lesson; from now on, I'm going to stop changing the radio stations, put away the cellphone, and keep both eyes on the Parenting Highway!