Last night Caleb and I found ourselves alone. Alex was at a sleepover and Mike is at his 20 year high school reunion in California. (He's called a few times to report that the homecoming queen and prom princess have lost some sparkle and that many of his buddies are bald.)
I asked Caleb to go on a date with me. He accepted with a cute little smile.
"Buddy, pick anywhere you want...just not Chuck E. Cheese...Ok?"
"Mama, I want to eat at your restaurant. I want to stay home with you and play."
How could I say no? All he wanted to do was stay home and play with me. I was able to convince him that mommy's restaurant was kind of closed and we should go grab food and bring it back. We had a picnic in the front yard and played "superheroes" while we ate. My super hero name was Supersonic. I had laser vision, super strength, nostril power, and could fly.
Caleb had a host of powers I can't remember now but I do remember the bad guy had vomit power.
We sat in the sunshine, and Caleb did all the talking, not a surprise if you know my son. He narrated a story line and I nodded and listened, throwing in a "wow" or "cool" or "no way" at appropriate moments. I also threw in "one more bite" and "watch your drink" a few times.
At first I thought I was giving Caleb the gift of my time, that he was the one benefitting from our game. Then, I realized, sometime after vomit power man tried to douse us in puke and I warded him off by blowing with my nostril power, that I was the one who needed the playtime. The reality that he's growing up hit me like a ton of bricks. There will be a day when he doesn't want to play superheroes with me on our front lawn, when eating at home will not be his first choice.
I soaked up the time with my son. Someday, when he drives off to college, waits for his bride at the end of the aisle, or becomes a daddy himself, I will pull out this memory and remember the little boy who just wanted to play with me.