He is slipping away from me.
This boy, my boy, whom I know less well each morning. How long before there's an utter stranger sitting at the table and requesting breakfast, as if it's the most natural thing in the world?
He has fine blond hair on his legs now. It catches the light, and I gasp. He turns, questioning. I see blemished skin on his face. His hair needs to be washed.
But the physical care of him is no longer my province. I clamp my mouth shut.
Our eyes meet, level. His lashes will be the stuff of girls' dreams. Maybe they already are. I'm not sure I'd know.
"Did you want something, Mommy?," he presses.
and yet sometimes he still calls me "Mommy"
"No, nothing at all," I say. He unfolds himself from his seat. His arms and legs needs special attention, so disproportionate are they. And so very slender that I fear they might buckle underneath him, a thoroughbred's sinewy legs, no padding to slow them down.
Life has been so different since he started middle school. This is the time for our children to make it on their own. Now, we will not be asked to come in to volunteer in the classrooms, or bring birthday cake, or accompany them on field trips.
My son is on the cusp. No longer a boy, not yet a man. A lot can happen in the liminal space he occupies. I am trying to trust that we have prepared him well for the contingencies, whatever they may be.
His voice has not yet betrayed him, and in its high, sweet register I take refuge. I suppose this is the way it will be, then. I will carry my firstborn's selves with me, and superimpose them on the man he is at twenty, at forty, at sixty.
My son is at the gate. Any minute now he'll be off. I sit a little forward in my seat and scan the track. I am preparing myself to watch him go.