His voice cracked for the first time on Christmas Day.
At first I chucked it to the excitement of waking up to a small mountain of gifts, stacked haphazardly around the lit up tree. When the raspy ups and downs persisted long after the wrapping paper had been carted away, I concluded the exhaustion from the long journey south had taken a toll on him. We had just spent two driving on scenic I-95 to avoid flying in the early days of the Omicron surge. Surely all that recirculated air and steady diet of drive-through food must have done a number on the poor boy.
But the next morning, as I was about to head out for a morning walk with the pup, it hit me. I stood by the front door scanning the neat row of flip flops, looking for mine, but they were nowhere to be found. As I studied the row yet again, hoping to summon my sandals into manifesting themselves, I zeroed in on his. It was as if the white shark fins scattered on the black rubber soles were waving at me, trying to get my attention. I slipped my right foot on, then my left, and I stood there staring at my feet, dumbfounded, absorbing the indisputable fact that my eleven year old’s flip flops fit me perfectly.
What in the actual fuck?
You would think I would have seen it coming. But I really did not.
When I first become a parent, when I met that tiny helpless baby, time entered a warped new dimension. The days are long and the years are impossibly short, but I was still young and eighteen years might as well be forever. I thought I had this unspoken agreement with the universe that they would be little people forever. But it turns out the universe never got the memo.
And to add insult to injury, the shoe manufacturers kindly keep up the fantasy by creating an entire different scale for children’s shoes. While it seems like our feet have been the same size for a while, I’m a women’s 7 and he’s a youth 5. But as far as I was concerned, his shoes still came from the kids section.
The dog looked up at me somewhat exasperated as I kicked off the flip flops and scanned the room for my shoes again. Just then, I heard the croaky voice coming my way. “Hey mom, can I take her on a walk by myself”?
I took it all in — the lilting raspiness, the confidence in his hopeful face, the suddenly enormous feet, and I handed over the leash.