It happened yesterday.
Well, it has been happening in daily small increments for seven-going-on-eight years – but yesterday, it meant something was officially in the past tense. There was a measurement, a helicopter ride and my sweet, I want to stay with you forever and never grow up son, was turned away from the Kiddie rides for being just an inch too tall.
A little sad and surprised, he tried to play it cool and went to Vinnie, who led him to the cool rides, the big boy rides, the roller coasters. I stayed with Asher and Lila, who were already boarding their helicopter and I took pictures and videos of them, suddenly feeling the very real pressure to stop time. Just stop it, there, in the Midway of The Big E.
Give me a second to breathe here, would you world?
Just hold still for one stinking minute so I can wrap my brain around the fact that my baby boy has been ousted from the safe, smile and wave at your parents while ringing some annoying bell or shooting some fake gun at imaginary enemies, world of Kiddie-ride Land.
Of course, if I’m being honest, this is (in part) why we have this family tradition of going to the fair. I like watching my children grow-up. I like looking through the pictures of them each year and remembering how they once were terrified by the baaing sheep or how small their faces looked inside silly wooden cutouts.
(Proof that milk does a body good?)
But still. Talk about an unexpected pulling-off of a band aid sort of moment. Hey, Mom with the camera, your kid is not a kiddie anymore.
Alex recovered just fine. He may be a big kid now, but he didn’t love the roller coaster and he desperately wanted to be beside me on the Ferris Wheel. We are both afraid of heights and winced just a little as we spun around in large looping circles up and down and overlooking the whole Midway.
As Asher and Lila wriggled and smiled and hooted and hollered across from Alex and I settled in together. We opened our eyes and he turned to me with a smile as big as the sun.
Mom, I love this ride. It’s not too fast and you forget how high up you are, and you get to see this amazing view!
And later, as Vinnie took the little kids to play little kids games, Alex and I walked through the bright lights and loud carnival barkers on the Midway, just he and I.
And this morning, as I look through these pictures from yesterday and years past, still sappy as all get out, I can’t help but be thankful that the world doesn’t stop when I tell it to.
I’m thankful for the young man he is becoming, for the things that he can do now that he couldn’t do before, for the ways he can express himself and conquer challenges and still be sweet enough to share his plush prizes with me (he won me a unicorn.)
If the world had listened to my heart, I’d still be changing his pull-ups and spending every morning teaching him the basics of the alphabet.
Instead, I’m watching an amazing thing happen. I’m watching a life happen.
And it’s pretty wonderful.