My son and I have officially outgrown our loveseat.
This is nothing less than a major domestic hurdle. It’s the only real seating in our living room, save an overstuffed chair that my father bought in 1970 and that has been shredded by a few generations of pets. The chair remains permanently covered by a chenille Pottery Barn throw so I can pretend there’s a semblance of style in the room. The loveseat, on the other hand, is a scratchy plaid monster that, ten years ago, I thought was comfortable. It has seen its share of SpongeBob episodes and fruit snacks crushed between the cushions and only recently became no longer big enough for the two of us and the cat.
The loveseat used to have a matching couch but the two parted ways in the divorce. The couch was long ago retired to the dump, and its sibling is apparently on its way.
It’s my son’s fault we outgrew it. It’s not that I elbow him out because I have doubled in size. It doesn’t fit because he’s all arms and legs; he’s almost twelve and he grew a foot in the last week.
I have heard that boys can shoot up when you’re not looking. One day I was walking with him in the mall, peering a few feet down at his boo-boo face and saying with great authority, “No, I will not buy you one more Bionicle.” Then, suddenly, I’m looking at him in the same mall, same corridor, and he’s looking right back at me straight in the eyes. I no longer have to look down to see him. He’s as tall as I am! And even worse, he’s still whining, only this time he’s saying, “I hate Aeropostale. Let’s go to Hollister.”
He now wears the same size shoes as I do. There are a few small advantages in this, such as I can wear his Crocs when I run out to the car (they are the only thing permanently installed by the door). But now he borrows my indoor soccer shoes, he says my hockey skates are more comfortable than his, and he’s gaining on me in other ways. I can’t wrestle him anymore without ending up on the floor.
We all outgrow things. That’s part of life. We find something that fits perfectly and we think we’re golden. But what fit last year in our lives may not fit this year. The problem is we get so attached that we wear that thing out, and we find ourselves at a point where it doesn’t work anymore. We cling to the old and familiar, even if it’s a few sizes too small. Sure, even as adults we outgrow clothes if we aren’t careful, especially after forty, but the more painful is outgrowing ideas, jobs, and relationships.
Clearly, I can no longer put it off and I have to upgrade to a couch. But I still have some time before everything goes awry. Because my son is pre-pubescent, he still likes hanging out with me. He took up playing tennis because I told him it was a sport we could do together. He still begs me to go and play wiffleball or go into the pool on a hot summer day. He looks forward to going on vacation together. But I’m not naïve. I know my days are numbered. It’s already started—several years back he stopped hugging me in public. He won’t hold my hand anymore. He doesn’t even like to say “I love you” unless I make him. Which I can still do, because I reign over television, computer, and wii privileges. (You have to hold on to power as long as you can!)
I remember when he was six weeks old, thinking, “I love this age! I don’t want him to get any bigger!” But then he was six months and could smile and sit up. And walking—wow, that was cool—next thing I knew, he was six and learning to read and his life opened up like an orange. Even these days, I love I can argue with him about whether Michael Jackson really had a skin-lightening disease, if A-Rod is a good role model, or whether the Alaskan quarter has been released or not.
We all know there’s a point when you have to let your kid go and trust that all you taught them will somehow keep them safe and they’ll become caring and responsible adults. As Wayne Dyer once said, kids are not apprentice people. But we still sometimes like to treat them that way.
My son’s and my relationship is coming into a new season. Some days, it’s harder to take than others, especially when we’re falling off our loveseat. That kind of hurts. But the ultimate sadness that any parent feels is waiting for that day when your kid finally outgrows you.