Tonight was my bi-weekly dinner with Lil’B. When I picked him up, he was bundled up in more layers than I ever remember seeing him in; with a fleece hoodie over his shirt, a thick puffy vest over that and a knit cap on his head, he looked like a longshoremen on his way to the docks. I was informed he had been sick and was still getting over it. He told me he didn’t go to school on Thursday and Friday while he was sick and I asked him what he did during that time. He, of course said, “I don’t know.” I asked him if he played video games and he said no. Then he told me that he watched movies.
I said, “That’s a good way to pass the time while you’re sick. What did you watch?”
“On Thursday I watched Elmo in Grouchland,” he told me, ” and on Friday, I watched Rio.” The boy has watched Rio a thousand times so I didn’t spend any energy on that, but I was amused because he watched Elmo.
I told him, “That sounds like fun! I really like Elmo.”
We went to this little restaurant in Alameda, called The Red Onion (It claims to be “The Original The Red Onion”), which sadly didn’t turn out very well. The food wasn’t too bad, but the service, location, service, ambiance, service, and prices… and service, were not great. Plus they don’t take credit cards which I didn’t know until we were already seated and looking at the menu. They take cash or ATM (with a $.75 service charge.) That’s just ridiculous. And Shifty. Anyway, we had a lot of downtime while we were waiting for anyone to notice that we were in need of some sort of service or other. (It happened multiple times.)
There was a plasma screen TV on the wall which was showing Space Jam and he was entranced. This is the reason I enjoy hanging out with Lil’B. I like kids movies and with him, I get to watch them.
Lil’B had spaghetti which, for a while, he was eating one noodle at a time, getting the end in his mouth and then slurping in Lady and the Tramp style. I watched him do this a couple of times and chuckled. I’m pretty sure that, as an adult influence, I was supposed to tell him to stop and eat the spaghetti properly, but, you know, I fail at adult influence… At least I do when the kid is being funny. The thing is though, as I watched him slurp the noodles, I also noticed that they were hitting the front of his hoodie. There wasn’t nearly enough sauce on the noodles for my taste and the noodles were fairly clean, but I spoke up anyway, telling him that he was going to get his shirt dirty.
He put his fork down, picked up a napkin and looked down at his shirt front. He couldn’t see any sauce, so he pulled the front of the vest apart more so he could get a better look. Then he pulled the front of the hoodie, where the zipper was, apart so he could look at the metal.
And that’s when I saw it. Something I hadn’t watched for. Something I hadn’t anticipated, though, I should have because it was inevitable. This little boy, who watched Elmo and Rio while he was sick and was so engrossed in Space Jam while we ate… This little kid who still doesn’t ask for what he wants and just goes with the flow… The spritely young thing that doesn’t even stand as tall as my chest… Has grown up hands. I don’t know when I last really paid attention to his hands, but I know they were tiny little things with bad hang nails and gnawed, ragged edges; scrawny, clumsy, short little things. And now, his fingers are long and slender, controlled and strong. His hands are grown up hands and it seems like it happened over night. It’s just one more sign that his “little boy” days are numbered and before long he’ll be a young man. I can’t believe it!