How to Grow a Boy

How does a chubby toddler finally sprout into a full-fledged little boy? In my experience, you can do two things to help make this happen.

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First you cut off his wispy curls.  I had a suspicion that as soon as I cut Carson’s hair he would stop being a baby and I was right.  We knew we needed to cut it for probably a month and I kept finding excuses.  His hair would look long and matted, and I would resign myself.  But then it would seem to curl up again and I would procrastinate.  I would say to myself: “Such a cute, curly-haired baby boy!  I’m so glad I haven’t chopped off his locks.”  But the long, matted days became more numerous than the cute, curly days and the deed was finally done.

The second way to convert a toddler into a boy is to take his beloved pacifier away.  At one point I think we owned about eight pacifiers. That number diminished gradually over time.  One by one, the pacifiers have been carried off to unknown corners of the house and abandoned, or thrown out of Carson’s stroller into the abyss of some park, neighborhood, or retail center.

Yesterday we were down to Carson’s last pacifier.  Since he is nearly two, I was not planning to purchase any more.  As I drove the carpool home from school, Carson was upset that I didn’t have any more crackers to give him.  In response to my egregious failure to act, he angrily—and fatefully—hurled his last pacifier far into the void of our minivan.

I have a suspicion that our mini-van is actually a black hole for toys, pacifiers, and especially library books.

At the time, of course, Carson had no clue what the consequences of this action would be.  He had no idea that his hand would never again grasp for any pacifier.  His mouth would never again experience the comfort that only a pacifier can bring.  Little did he know that this faded, crusty green pacifier was his last one.  Ever.

I did make one valiant effort to find the pacifier.  I pulled the van to the side of the road and ran my hands under all the seats.  Nothing.  At that point I decided I would make no more heroic efforts.  Babyhood is fading away.  Boyhood has come.  It’s time to face the music.  (Even when the “music” is basically toddler screams echoing in my ear!)

Later for his nap, and again at bedtime, when he asked for “blanky and passy” and I explained to him that he sealed his fate when he threw his passy away in the car, his lip quivered, and he sobbed mournfully from the center of his very being.  Seriously.  It was like his best friend had died or something.

Last night I took a peek at him sleeping in his bed, with his little-man haircut and no pacifier in his mouth, his head resting sweetly on his pillow.  He seemed so grown up.

I miss my baby boy.  I am also excited about the young man I see emerging more and more every day.  Such is the destiny of a mom—always looking back, always reaching ahead, and trying to savor the fleeting moments while they last.


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