• Hayley Hengst

I'll Lose Him Overnight. (But It Won't Be Tonight)

He's 11 right now. He's a teenager in so many ways. The shows he likes. The music he likes. The things he finds amusing. The YouTube and Fortnite and YouTubers talking ABOUT Fortnite. He notices cute girls now. I notice him noticing the cute girls. A few times in recent months when he's been especially mad or upset about something, he's peppered his rant with the words "damn" or "hell". He is NOT allowed to talk that way, for the record. It wasn't even an issue until a few months ago. It's a sign of the times.

Aside from all that though, he IS still (Mercifully. Thankfully.) a little boy. For only a little bit longer.

He's a little boy, and also, he's a Mama's Boy. I'm talking through and through. He wants to be with me, by me, near me, snuggled next to me ALL the time. He wants me to "watch this" ("and this") ("and this"). "Can I come with you?". "Will you come with ME?". He doesn't want to be far from me, ever. By "far" I mean like "more than 10 feet".

He doesn't want to just go outside and play basketball..he wants me to go outside and WATCH him play basketball (or play with him).

He doesn't want to just go outside and bounce on the trampoline...he wants me to WATCH him bounce on the trampoline (or bounce with him).

He finds it reasonably entertaining to play Among Us on his tablet, but ever more so if I'm watching over his shoulder, as he commentates for me exactly what's happening.

I love this boy with my entire soul, and to the very marrow of my bones. More than that, if that is such a thing. If I'm being honest though, sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by his attachment. I'm a creature that thrives on space and solitude and silence.

So the other day, when he grabbed his wallet, hopped on his bike, and said he was riding to the convenient store to buy himself a coke, I quickly okayed the plan, and in fact, breathed a audible sigh of relief when he left.

He was gone a bit longer than I expected though, and I was suddenly and unexpectedly gripped with fear...not that something bad had happened to him. No, this was a different fear. I feared that, while he was out riding his bike, he had suddenly become "one of them".

"One of them": The kids who are only a wee bit older than my boy. 12? 13? They wander around after school in our neighborhood in big groups. All staring at phones. Or flirting. Flirting and staring at phones. They're dallying as long as possible because they don't WANT to go home yet. God forbid they have to be home with their boring MOTHER. When they do eventually arrive home, Mother will get nothing but eye rolls from them. One word answers. They will begrudgingly agree to spend five minutes with her, before they finally manage to squirm out of the room and get back to their phones and their friends.

I've witnessed this change happen to kids overnight, you see. I have friends with kids in this age range. I've watched...literally WATCHED...as they went from sitting on their moms lap squeezing her in a big bear hug, to being annoyed by her very presence OVERNIGHT. It happens over(damn)night. They're 11 and obsessed with you and you can do no wrong and then.. BAM! They hate you, and everything you do is wrong.

I sat there in the laundry room that afternoon, during the 20 minutes he was gone, and my eyes welled up with tears, at this sudden picture I had of him in my mind...only a little older..."one of them"....and this sentence popped into my head "I'm going to lose him overnight". He is mine, through and through right now. His devotion and allegiance and time and affection are almost entirely mine. But it will change on a dime. I won't lose him entirely, but I WILL lose him, in this current Little Boy form, overnight. He will be gone, and I won't ever get him back. Let THAT sink in. Forget the welling of the tears...they began to flow, at this horrible realization.

Then I heard him out front, greeting his brothers as he approached. Needing some happier thought to help me pull myself together, I mentally scrambled for something cheerful to focus on. Ah! Tonight! Tonight we have big plans. We are putting his little brothers down a little bit earlier than normal, and he and I are going to be watching football in my bed. A "Slumber Party in Mom's Room".

We're going to stay up late. We're going to eat junk food. He's going to explain what's happening to me, as we watch football. When the game is over, he will snuggle up so close to me, wrapping his feet around my legs, and his hands around my hands, causing me to be uncomfortably hot and sweaty, but tonight, I will not complain about this.

When he got back from the store earlier, he had a diet coke in his hand, that he'd bought for me, as a surprise.

I will lose him overnight, yes...but it won't be tonight.

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