He still lets me tuck him in at bedtime. Nine years old, in a big hurry to grow up — but he hasn't yet booted me from plopping beside him, pulling the covers up to his chin, and humming some hit '80s song while I drag my fingers through his silky, shaggy mop.
Oh, it's coming. "I don't think my friends' parents tuck them in at night," he offers casually. "I might be getting too old for this."
You listen to me, I would say if my teeth weren't clenched for the express purpose of preventing my saying it. I will be tucking you in when you stumble home from the senior prom shnockered on bad, illegally obtained liquor, and you will like it. ... The tucking-in, I mean. Not the liquor. You will very much dislike the liquor.
He's my second — my youngest — and I relish the peaceful proximity of the nighty-night ritual because I know the teenaged withdrawnness that is coming, painful albeit developmentally appropriate as it is: the shrugging off of loving pats on the back. The "How soon do I have to be home?"
That's happening in some other corner of our house. But in this quiet bubble, miraculously, I touch my little boy and warble Tears for Fears' "Shout" or OMD's "Enola Gay," neither of which are lyrically soothing — and he relaxes. Lowering creaseless lids over stormy eyes, he takes a deep breath and with one final shuddered protest, goes slack.