Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tween First at the Department Store

Enjoyed celebrating my friend Gwen and my 40th birthdays with our running friends.

When I was a parent of little ones, I eagerly anticipated the firsts.  I greeted the first clap, step, and word with pure joy, careful to chronicle every glorious detail in the confines of a baby book.

But as my children have grown, the firsts have dwindled.  The milestone moments have become less frequent and expected.

But today brought new milestone moments (of sorts).

Lately, I've noticed that either Caleb's pants have shrunk or he's gained a few inches.  Regardless of the cause, his high waters need to be replaced.  I loaded up the boys, prayed a few "Lord help me survive the store without totally losing it or them" prayers, and walked into Kohl's.

The Boys' Department sits in the back of the store.  To get there involved a jaunt through the women's lingerie section.  The boys could barely contain their disgust at the mannequins'  "barely there" ensembles.  Cooper covered his eyes and kept shrieking, "This is SO gross!"  I tried to suppress my giggles as I seconded his sentiments.

When we arrived at the Boys' Department, the boys dispersed and fluttered among the racks.  Caleb sifted through the selection and then pulled a few sweatpants into his arms.  We debated about sizes.  

"I think you need to try them on,"  I tossed out.

He looked stunned and then questioned, "Where?"

I motioned to a fitting room.  It was virgin territory for him;  He had never tried on clothes at a store.  I wasn't invited into the fitting room, but instead ushered to my place against an outside wall.  Periodically, Caleb exited the room and modeled his pants.  We debated about length and waist size.  Then, he'd return to the room and click the lock again.

Suddenly, I became fully aware of how Caleb had grown.  I can no longer sling a handful of 2T pants into a cart.  He's graduated to the stage where he wants/needs to be involved in the clothing selection process.  A little part of me found this weighty.

As I was still processing the fitting room first, we wandered over to the shoe department.  Caleb selected a new pair of running shoes.  He tried on a few, but they were all too snug.  It became apparent that Caleb had outgrown the boy aisle.  He was ready to move up to the men's shoe department.  

We walked over to the same shoe aisles where my husband shops.  The shoes looked ginormous and my knee-jerk reaction was to direct him back to the velcro, light-up, character-laced Keds.  I could barely contain my shock when he pulled a pair of adult-size shoes on his feet and they......fit.

I kept mumbling, "When did you get this old?"

In the blink of an eye, he's graduated from onesies, footy pajamas, and character underwear.  I never grieved that fact until today.

The experience at the store was just another confirmation that my son is getting older.  His clothes are a reflection of his transformation from boy to man.  But just like he needs my assistance at the store, he still needs my guidance in his  life.  

I'll help him navigate the space into adulthood, but I'm realizing my place in his life will continue to change.  I won't be making his decisions and doing things for him.  Just like the fitting room, I'll hold a spot outside the door, hoping he can hear me over the wall, and praying he comes out from time to time and still listens to my words.

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