No matter how hard we may try and wish for it to be true, we can't freeze our children.
They will, despite all of our efforts, grow older with each passing day.
I think this is the bittersweetness of being a mother that I keep hearing about.
When they are babies, we mourn the loss of babyhood, but still have the distractions of a busy and completely dependent toddler to keep us busy. Then, they stop being a toddler but we still have a very young child (a kindergartner, perhaps) on our hands to deal with. And then comes the elementary-aged child who still, even though he doesn't want to admit it, needs his mom.
My boys have taken to their puppy responsibilities quite well, on sunny days that is.
When it rains (or snows), that is a different story.
But most sunny days they will willingly declare that they want to walk the dog. Which translates into: we want to explore the countryside and are using the dog as our lame excuse to do so.
Fine. I give them a phone (because I am paranoid), toss a few granola bars and water bottles in their direction and tell them when I expect them home.
They have never missed a curfew yet.
But today, my oldest went alone. Well, not entirely alone, he did have the vicious, man-eating dog with him.
It's hard to see him go. On the one hand, it bothers me that he doesn't want or need his brother or anyone else to come with him. On the other, I have to let him be who he is; and that is a confident, unafraid, almost 6th-grader.
So I let him go. I told him when to be home and I let him go. Then I distracted myself with forty loads of stinky laundry so I wouldn't worry while he was gone.
It was approaching the time when he would be returning and I heard a little noise coming from the front porch. I peeked through the side window and saw him, dog leash in his hand, sitting on the bottom step.
Ten minutes passed and I heard the turn of the door knob.
4:45, right on the dot, and he walked through the door.
"Hi there," I said as I ushered our vicious, man-eating dog to the backyard and his waiting dish of kibble.
"Hi," he answered, "I'm right on time!"
"Yup, you sure are, did you have a good walk?"
"Uh-huh, and since I was done ten minutes early, I decided to sit on the front porch until the exact time you said to come back," he explained.
"Well, you could have come home before that time," I reasoned.
"Nope, you said 4:45 and 4:45 it is!"
I can't wait until he is a teenager and his curfew is midnight (ouch, it hurts just to even think about those days ahead). There he will be, sitting on the front porch waiting for it to be the exact time I told him to be home!
And not a minute sooner.