Once upon a time he wore white canvas sneakers with frogs and lizards and carried a bear made from drapery samples and mismatched buttons. Then he followed me anywhere, trusted my every word and told me in no uncertain terms where it hurt.
Now he's eight and I hardly remember that little boy.
He's moody, emotional and I struggle to maintain a connection. I can't find the balance between giving him liberty to be his own person and drawing those lines intended to protect him. I can't communicate truth to him. He doesn't believe me.
It was he and I against the world, my firstborn. At six months old he lay next to me, head on my shoulder, smiling as if there were no happier place for a boy than right there with his mom reading Paddington Bear and Stop That Ball. And then in that moment I knew I could do it right. I never dreamed there would come a day when we would spend so much time in conflict and I would feel so completely out of control.
He comes to me when I reach for him. He falls into my embrace, even wondering aloud sometimes why I can't carry him anymore, though he knows good and well. But I wonder often why I have failed to give him more security and if he will grow up to be honest, kind and happy. Or is he destined to always be angry and obstinate?
Is it every parent's dream to raise a child perfectly primed to fit into society's nice little niche? Does anyone else worry they're raising a misfit?
Can I turn him?