file2011256592774Right this moment, votes are being cast. The number of candidates for this office can be counted on two hands. The field is wide open and the potential for upsets abound. Don’t panic—you didn’t miss a ballot. It’s middle school elections. Which, when you are nearly 14, is an important day. So after 96 hours of shivering in bed and hacking the flu dry-cough, my son is struggling to pull himself upright.

And wear a tie.

He’d mentioned it a few weeks ago. You know, way back in 2014. “I’m going to run for office.” We shared a few back-and-forth comments, and then the conversation drifted.

So I was startled this morning to hear “MooOOOOoom! Where are my new dress pants?” The need for black slacks happens about three times a year at our house. {After December’s holiday concert at which his pants looked like a cross between high-waters and capris, the exact nature of his recent growth spurt was apparent. Time for new pants.} “why are you looking for them?” “The election is today.”

He was calm. I was flustered.

Have you written your speech? Yes.
Practiced it? Yes.
Made Posters? (eye roll.) Yes.


Why didn’t I know?
Why wasn’t I consulted?
Why didn’t he ask for help?

Because the tide has turned. He’s doing his own laundry. Cleaning bathrooms. Making meals {pizza & cereal are meals, right?} His booster seat isn’t in the car. His beloved blanket ‘Baba’ isn’t in his bed. The tooth fairy is no longer needed.

And so, it seems, neither am I.

Right now I am recognizing that a seismic and silent shift has happened. My job description has changed from physical sherpa to emotional guide. Which is just as it should be. Except I’m still scrambling to catch up, while pulling one, two, three too-small dress shirts off hangers and land them in the hand-me-down pile.

For this is what we want—children well on the way to life, liberty and the pursuit of independent happiness. Right? We want this?

Because right now we stand nearly eye-to-eye and the shadow on his lip seems to darken by the day. And I find myself reaching for the memory of the soft, pudgy hand of the toddler. Remembering the day we lay in the grass and counted 73 ladybugs and watched clouds become castles in the sky.

Right this moment, the four years of high school ahead suddenly seem very short, and the memory of a four year-old seems incredibly far away. Today—wedged between dragons and diplomas—I’m wondering, is this okay? Is it right? I’m sure other kids are rehearsing and polishing and getting advice. So shouldn’t I step in? Offer insight? Or a whole speech rewrite?

Instead I offer a wobbly smile. A fierce hug. A confident Good luck! Good luck today, my son. Do I hope the votes for him come out on top? Of course. Yet no matter the results, he’s already won.