Wilder's Whole World

By: Dwayne Wilder

I don’t know when he started to seem so grown up.
I looked across the stands of clothes in the athletic apparel store to see his head tower over them. If I didn’t know him, I’d surely consider him some adult with a life of his own; taking time out to buy some needed clothing article. He looked normal and fit right in with the throng out that day.
But I do know him. He’s 13 years old and as tall as I am now. By Christmas, he’ll soar past me in height and never look back. He’s becoming a man right before my eyes; and I can’t stop it.
Not that I want to, but the time has gone so quickly! I want it – no, I NEED it – to slow down. I’m not ready to give him up to the world yet. Are any of us really ready?
We were shopping for ‘slicky’ pants for him and maybe something for his mother that day. She was in the dressing room when I looked over at him perusing the aisles. I was struck with his maturity; his fitting in with the world around us; with his transition to adulthood.
As he has moved from sixth grade to his seventh grade year and especially to this his eighth grade year, I have been watching and seeing his growth from young boy to young man. Sure, he has a long way to go, but in these first couple of years here, he has made leaps and bounds.
And he has done it WAY too soon……………………………
I try to think back to my time at this age. I don’t have any specific memories of ‘growing up’ at a certain time. It is more of a range of time…………..those years from 12 years old to 18 years old to 21 years old and beyond…………………
I guess we are too busy living that we don’t stop ourselves to mark specific events in those early days as being landmark. We just shoot right by them and go on to other ones. We develop without even knowing it. Oh, sure, we can be introverted and think all about it, but even then, we are as human as the next person; so we just live through it. We move quickly from young teen to driving to graduation to more mature things.
I look at him and wonder how many more weekends we’ll have with him to do this type of thing; this shopping with parents? There are only 52 of them in a year; and we are well into this school year. Soon, he’ll be in high school and that day will come when he doesn’t want to shop with both parents or either parent.
I don’t want to say or even think it, but someday, he’ll be shopping with a girl friend or fiancée! How will I feel then? (I mean besides ‘Old?!’) Will I look back on this weekend and get teary-eyed? Recalling the fun it was (or NOT!); recalling the simple ‘time’ we had with him. Will I remember that it was the first time that I ‘noticed’ he wasn’t my little boy any longer?
In the past year or so, it has been a new attraction to hair products and shaving that have made their marks on his young life. Soon, we will be talking about driving school and a part-time job. Just as quick, he’ll be a senior and graduating……………….
As I think back on that moment in time at the clothing store, I realize he may seem so much more ‘grown up’ because we had just come from a movie together (yes, we still do that with him….for now). Perhaps it was – in part – the fact that he responded to the mature jokes and situations appropriately that showed me he was ‘growing up’ right before my eyes. He laughed at the mature themed statements just as I did. He knows more than he did last summer, last year; and in his early elementary years.
He is ‘growing up’ right in front of me and everyone else…………………….
He still wants to watch television with his ‘Mom and Dad,’ but he is becoming his own person, too. He is making decisions to show his independence, just like it should be. He is examining his world and deciding what type of person he will be. I just hope that we have done the right things to help him make the wisest choices.
Sure, I know he will make mistakes; and I hope he knows that we will always be here for him when things go wrong or not as planned. I want to be there for all those times over the next four or five years because when those are gone, my ‘little boy’ won’t be around any longer.
In his place will be a man who I will be proud of no matter what. In his place will be a man who is well on his way to a productive life. In his place will be a man who will know his parents love him. In his place will be a man………………………
But in that moment when I see him among the clothes racks, my heart jumps; my emotions reel and some tears fall. He’s growing up right before my eyes! Right now, he is becoming an adult by stepping along those weekends with parents and times with peers in every day life. He is growing up; and I wouldn’t have it any other way……………..

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