Lately, Matthew has been very aware of growing up, what that entails in a new and profound way. He keeps repeatedly telling me how he does not want to grow up. Some times defying us, mimicking Marisa, and telling us he is a baby. He will snuggle up to us but there is desperation in that snuggle like he is trying to say hold me like baby, I want to still be a baby.
Some times, we are so focused on our kids growing up, reaching milestones like school and sleep overs and getting to the next age, that we forget they are still little kids. I some times indulge Matthew. I let him be a baby, I let him snuggle up and coo in his ear like I did when he was really little. I too miss that anyway.
I distinctly remember the fear Matthew feels about growing up. There was a tree near our front door. It was not a very big tree, I cannot remember if we planted when we moved into the house which may have been the case since I was five and this was in CA. I might have been six. That is a bit vague to me, my exact age. I remember hanging from tree and feeling that sense of doom about growing up.
I remember desperately seeking out my parents for hugs and snuggles, wanting to cuddle with them like when "I was little". And at the same time I was fraught with deep concerns about my parent's health and well being. I now know I was getting the idea of death and life. At the time, it would make my heart explode painfully in my chest to think of my parents dying and spatially, timing wise it felt like it could happen in that moment, as I was considering their life and death.
Yesterday, Matthew was very tired. He told me that at camp they had a long hike to eat lunch and play at a far off playground then they hiked back. On top of that, we had T-ball. He was just out of it. I even told him twice we could just go home. It was not a big deal to miss T-ball especially if he was tired. He looked exhausted and if he is tired, nothing is fun. He is a bear to everyone and anyone who comes in contact with him. He was kind of being a brat to the other kids both at T-ball and camp and I kind of wished I could just scoop him up and just leave. I could tell the boy he was supposed to be playing with was annoyed. It was a hard hour to sit through for many reasons.
On the ride home from T-ball, I told him that he need not be afraid to tell us if he too tired to do an activity. In fact, I welcomed that for the benefits of him and others. In the middle of this conversation, he said pitifully 'I do not want to grow up Mommy. I do not ever want to get big.' It was silent for a moment. He went on 'I am scared that if I get big you and Daddy will die.' Then he burst into tears, complete with sobbing. And my heart broke. I reached back and told him we could hold hands which he did, gripping his small sweaty hand tightly around mine. I told him that we (Kevin and I) have no plans to go anywhere for a long time. Then I told him that the thing about growing up is that it takes a long long long LONG time. I told him that this is hard and that I remembered feeling this way both about growing up and my parents.
I am not sure if any of what I said helped but he slowly loosened his grip on my hand and we shared some giggles over a huge pothole in the road that we hit.
Life (and death) is always looming in front of all of us. I see myself aging and some times I wish I could crawl back into my Mom's arms. If I wanted to, I think I could. I will always be there to listen and hold Matthew if he needs me too. I hope Matthew always knows that.