(while very slowly (painfully) climbing the two story staircase to my mother-in-law’s apartment at the end of a lovely and our last day of vacation)
Me: Go a head, Hank. I’m gonna take this slow.
Hank: No, I want to walk with you. I don’t mind and I’ll be here in case you need me.
Me: (smiling, wincing due to my RA/AS)
Hank: I can’t believe our holiday is over.
Me: Tomorrow we go home.
Hank: I can’t believe I haven’t been home in two months.
Me: It wasn’t the same without you, but I am so glad you had such a wonderful adventure, alone and with us.
Hank: I can’t believe I start my new school in two weeks.
Me: And since you have punched fear in the face for two solid months: being away from your parents, going to new places, making new friends, helping lost tourists…
Hank: (giggling) More than once!
Me: Being adventurous with food and learning how to ride a ten-speed bike starting a new school should be a piece of cake.
Hank: Ha! You’re funny, mama. I can’t believe that I’m going be ten in a few weeks. I mean TEN.
Me: Me neither. You were just born yesterday and I am 27.
Hank: (positively purple with laughter)
Me: You’re going to be a tween.
Hank: (deadly serious) Actually, I prefer the term pre-teen.
Hank: And I am going to start changing and my voice will get deep and I will get acne and have to shave and I will have… what do you call random emotional outbursts?
Me: You’re entire life?
Hank: No, mom! Seriously… OH! Mood swings.
Me: Heaven help me! I think we are safe for another three years, although, your sass has definitely increased.
Hank: Ten is when everything changes.
Hank: I am actually excited to be more independent.
Me: When you become a teenager I am going to back off. By the time you are 13, 14, 15 I am going to stop talking and start listening. By then you will have absorbed all the mama wisdom you’re ready to handle and unless the words, “Mom, I need your advice,” fall out of your mouth I am going to trust that when you need to talk you will know I am always, always listening.
Hank: (determined) I am just going to focus on school. I am going to raise my math grade. I am not interested in dating or drama.
Me: (riots of laughter echoing down the stairwell) Good thing since YOU’RE GONNA BE TEN NOT 25!
Hank: (reaching the apartment door first, turning back) And mama?
Me: (wincing up the last two steps) Hum?
Hank: Never, ever stop talking to me. I never want you to stop. (walking into the apartment and not looking back)
Me: (taking a moment to savor the last bits of my sweet, sweet nine year old before entering the fray)