You shuffled up to me with your head hanging down.
It was only yesterday, but I will remember it forever. You don’t shuffle. Usually, you fly. Or bounce. Or slide or crawl or leap. This time, you shuffled up to me… almost quietly. I was sitting on the floor, reading. Abby was napping and you were playing cars. I only wish I could spell this conversation out phonetically so others could “hear” you. Your language and voice have a raspy magic that transform ordinary moments into memories.
Mom, you said with a bit of sad in your voice, Me growing down.
You’re growing DOWN, Bud? Whaddya mean?
Me growing down.
[I set my book down.]
Say it again, Bud. I don’t understand.
Me growing DOWN, Mom. ME NOT GETTING BIG.
Oh, but you are, Gus Man! You ARE getting big! I can tell by your shoes and your chair at the table and your seat in the car. You ARE getting big! It’s slow, but you’re changing… you’re growing UP every day.
ME NOT WANT GET BIG! Me want to grow down!
[And you leaned into me, wrapped your arms around my neck, and buried your head in my shoulder.]
Oooooh. I see. I see. You know, growing UP is not really something we can change OR stop. Mom’s still growing up, too. It’s just how God made us. We grow up not down. We get bigger, stronger, taller. We learn more and play more and visit fun places. Do you like being little? Don’tcha WANNA get big?
Me want to stay here with mom. Me growing down.
[Here is where my heart nearly broke in half… honey, you were so serious.]
Oh, Buddy. You will always be my best guy. Even if you grow up, even if you go to school, even if you get in trouble, even if you get mad at me, even if you move away… you will always be my best guy. So don’t be afraid to grow up. Think of all the things you’ll be able to do when you get BIG! What do you want to do when you get BIG?
[And you waited. You were not completely sold. But you were thinking.]
[And you leaned back without letting go and looked me in the eyes. Slowly, a grin spread across your face.]
Me get big, ME DRIVE!
[Heaven help us all.]