This becomes a New Year’s Eve post if you make it to the end.
I was wearing socks and there was not a world in which I was willing to remove them, because my feet were cold and I am lazy.
On the doormat were my eleven-year-old’s slide-in sandals—the type with no toe thong. My own sandals had a toe-thong which made them incompatible with the socks I refused to abandon. I’m not sure that toe-thong is technically a word, but I hope it’s close enough to be informative.
I slid my socked feet into my son’s shoes, and they fit, so I promptly stole them. He’s been clomping about in my shoes since he could walk, so I felt justified. Oh, don’t worry—I don’t plan on absconding with them permanently, because to be honest, they are not that cute and I am a firm believer in cute shoes.
I remember when my own feet could fit into my mother’s shoes well enough to wear them to school. My mother didn’t complain about me wearing down the heels or caution me about treating them nicely. More than a bat mitzvah (which I didn’t have) or sweet sixteen party (which I did), the moment of awareness that I had crossed over the threshold into the world of adults was when I was allowed to borrow my mother’s shoes.
When I put my son’s shoe on, though, I experienced a hang-time moment of nostalgic-tingled expectation—we are on the cusp of his own teen-dom. His feet have crossed over the divide between baby and adolescent. Yes, his baby shoes were adorable but there’s no going back, and I wouldn’t want to, even if I could.
I’m excited about having a big kid. I love that he has fully embraced sarcasm as his preferred means of communication with his brother. I like that we can watch grown-up movies together and have philosophical discussions. He was an adorable baby, but he’s a fun tween most of the time.
My son is in this liminal state between child and teenager. He still wants to go to playgrounds, but no longer remembers why they are fun. He’s not yet lost his childhood prudishness about swear words, and any slip on my part will earn a condescending “language!” reprimand. He hasn’t yet embraced sleeping until noon. But his shoes have promised that we are nearly there, and I can’t wait to see what the next stage brings. More than that, though, I appreciate this stage--where his shoes are not yet smelly and disgusting but still close to grown-up sized. I am neither overly anxious for the next stage or stuck in nostalgia about the previous ones.
This is my New Year’s Eve insight. We are on the cusp of a new administration, and I won’t pretend not to be terrified. It feels very uncertain and foreboding. But there will always be children growing into bigger shoes. There will be a thousand tiny moments, unimportant in the scheme of world history, when time slows for a breath, and we appreciate the feel of our grown-up foot sliding into an eleven-year-old’s sandal.
Copyright © 2022 Lara Lillibridge
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