The worn-out sock monkey with the Christmas hat went to bed with him every night.
It was a gift from his cousin/best friend, and he had affectionately named him Galerie.
Galerie was like part of the family.
He went on all road trips. He was snuggly tucked in his backpack at every cousin slumber party. Galerie joined him for his first week at overnight camp. He even traveled across the world with him, safely in his carry-on bag.
Whenever there was someplace to go, there was no question Galerie would come too.
Sometimes as parents we wonder how long these phases will last. We even start to get a little nervous wondering if they will ever end . . . Will he ever stop sucking his thumb? Will she still have to sleep with this lovie when she’s in college? How long will they insist on wearing this same old shirt?
But the moment my tween said the words, “Mom, I’m too old for that,” my heart froze for a minute.
Deep down, you know these milestones are going to happen. But for some reason, they always seem to sneak up out of nowhere in the middle of mundane moments rushing by, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to fully prepare for them.
He was practicing magic tricks and I had offered to help him pack his bag for an overnight with his grandparents. I nonchalantly picked up the old monkey and said with a grin, “And of course you’ll want Galerie.” He looked at me with a surprised smile and said, “Mom, I’m too old for that!”
He is proud to be old enough for deodorant now. He longs for the day when he will have some facial hair. He checks his height every other day. He’s more helpful to his siblings and is showing more responsibility, along with more moods and opinions.
I see the cocoon just beginning to shake and the young man inside longing to break out.
There’s nothing that can stop this process.
There aren’t any magic words that can pause this moment with my emerging magician who longs to transform.
The transformation will happen . . . no matter how long he cradles his stuffed monkey.
No matter how long she sleeps with a pacifier.
No matter how long he throws a fit every time he hears no in the grocery store.
No matter how long she insists on bringing her stuffed rabbit where ever she goes.
No matter how long he hides behind your leg every time someone says hello.
No matter how long she begs you to carry her everywhere.
No matter how long he asks to have his arm scratched as he falls asleep at night.
There will be a last night for the favorite bedtime story you’ve read three thousand times. There will be a last time you snuggle them in the rocking chair as they’re struggling to fall asleep. There will be a last time they run to your bed in the middle of the night, afraid of the nightmare or the storm.
So I hope we handle them gently and enjoy them fully as they go through each fleeting stage.
The moments are mundane and they quickly fly away as milestones come and go. But the transformations that happen and the memories left behind . . . they are magical.