He's always been a student.
Since his first minutes on the planet, Big Cuter's eyes have been open and searching. Born "sunny side up," he was looking around the delivery room, wondering what he'd missed while passing through the birth canal. The doctor and nurse were amazed. He looked curious.
A reluctant reader until necessity (Dad wasn't around to read Princess of Mars and he wanted to know how it ended) forced his hand, his apartment now contains a bed, a couch, a chair and books. Lots and lots and lots of books. Robert Jordan and Steven Erikson and Michael Lewis and J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin share the bookshelves with Patrick O'Brian and Tom Clancy and his law texts. This is a kid who loves to read. He just came to it later than made me comfortable.
Letting go of expectations - he never crawled, he stood up and ran - has been the hardest part of parenting for me. I like to know the rules, see the path, have a plan. Getting over the fact that my plan is not his plan, that my way is not his way, that my outlook is not his has been a challenge. He doesn't disappoint; he goes about life his own way and ends up where he's supposed to be in the end. It's just not the way I'd have gotten there.
Letting go was never easy. I sobbed - loudly and for a long time - when he went off to summer camp for the first time. What if.... suppose.... he doesn't .... he can't... I went to the negative before Seret called and cheered me up. She was always better at the release than I was.
Told that he'd be going to kindergarten all by himself he stopped and thought and then wondered what would happen if he didn't know an answer. "The other kids might ..." was interrupted by a wail. "What other kids? You told me I was going all by myself!!!" he cried. The kid did pay attention. We had to give him that.
Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Puckett, Miss Murphy... they taught him to spell and add and use perfect penmanship. Would that they could see him now. He sees the pictures behind the equations and corrects the announcers' grammar on ESPN. What they did worked.
Always able to make the inaccessible understandable, in the third grade he gave a speech on the Greek gods and goddesses. He focused on The Muses, because he had a classmate named Thalia. I don't know if that beautiful little blonde knew that she bore a magical name before the morning he spoke to the class, but she certainly did once he finished. He'd shown what he'd learned and he'd invited the rest of his friends into the adventure. I still bask in the glow of the moment.
He wore a black cape and then a ball cap and then switched his palette to grey and navy. He wasn't big on plaid. Sweat pants trumped blue jeans. Georgetown logo gear got him through college. He finds something he likes and he sticks to it. He is consistent.
With an uncanny ability to remember every fact he's ever encountered, he's our go-to when something is lost to our memory banks. He rarely fails us.
He's a low key kind of guy; his half smile comes out while his sister guffaws. He's an observer more than an participant. Unless he's certain that he'll get it right, he's happy to watch and learn. There are worse ways to be. This is not a person who is going to drive off a cliff.... although he did forget sunscreen last weekend and I'm on his couch right now watching him peel the skin off his upper arm. Even the most perfect people make mistakes.
And now he is graduating from law school. He's found a niche and he needs a job, but that's not important right now. Right now, sitting on his couch, watching him stare at the Clippers and the Grizzlies battle it out in game seven of the series, his face a mirror image of his father's on my other side, I'm overwhelmed with admiration and pride.
He lived alone, made his own way, studied and negotiated and competed and succeeded and he learned. I listen to him explain a complicated issue and I'm brought back to Thalia in the third grade. He's never lost the ability to draw me in, to make me understand, to untangle the knots and present the facts within a frame of reference that makes sense to me.
Sure, he's messier than I'd like him to be. Sure, he's not going about his life the way I would arrange it. But that's the issue I've been dealing with for the past 29 years, and I guess I'll be dealing with it for the forseeable future. "What are you going to wear today, sweetie?" Jeans under his cap and gown? Not the choice I would make, but it's not my graduation. I gave birth to him but I still haven't cut the cord, it seems. I didn't groan out loud, I didn't suggest slacks, my belly did a flip flop but I kept my mouth shut.
He's a big boy now. He's a law school graduate. It's time to let it go.......