He Needs Me, He Needs Me Not

Bug is voracious, in everything he does. His appetite is insatiable. He devours books, he inhales information, he craves attention, and he spits it all back out with rapid fire.

I’ve learned more about dinosaurs, the subject of particular interest lately, than I ever did in elementary school. Dioramas of Play-Doh stegosauruses and plastic trees included.

And Bug makes a great teacher. Except when I miss everything he just repeated from the book open in his lap, because I’m stuck staring at the little boy before me and wondering how I let him grow up so fast.

I came downstairs the other day to find him helping himself to a bowl of cereal.

At the library, he wanders off into the children’s non-fiction section, his library card in his pocket, and checks out his allotted five books while the librarian smiles at him, this miniature adult.

He showers, dries his hair, and gets ready for bed all on his own.

He pours a glass of juice to go with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich he fixed himself.

He writes stories without pausing to ask me how to spell difficult words. Even if he misspells them.

He flips on the television, with permission, of course, finds a show he enjoys, or starts one of his bajillion DVDs.

He can easily find games to play on the computer, Dad’s iPod, or on my iPhone, navigating around technology like it’s an extension of his own body. Maybe it is.

He is outgrowing me.

Until about nine o’clock at night, when he catches my shadow as I slip out of Bean’s room and down the hall, and over the muffled sounds of the television on in the den, I hear my name softly called, his voice a whisper and full of hope. “Cuddle?” he asks when I stick my head in. And because he spent the sunlight hours nurturing his independence from me, I scoot beside him beneath his blanket and let his gangly, skinny little arms wrap all the way around me.

And at least for a little while, though he needs me not, he needs me.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “He Needs Me, He Needs Me Not

  1. How beautiful is this!

    William waits till his twin sister is asleep, commando crawls past the bedroom where his dad is watching the Jays play ball, and sneaks downstairs. He peaks into the library where I am, and says, “Can I have a cuddle, Mom?” It’s never easier to close my laptop.

  2. I think that Bug will really enjoy reading this post someday. I wish that my parents had made a contemporaneous written record of my daily activity when I was very young. And I don’t think children ever stop needing their parents; it’s just that their needs change. For example, I can pour my own juice, but I still call my mother a few times a week just to talk.

    • Such an intelligent kid. He sounds like a combination of my two oldest boys…a little bit like one and a little like the other. I feel like I know him.

      I always joke about my 6-yr-old being ready to get his own apartment. He’s such a rule follower and so responsible. I feel like he doesn’t need me! 🙂

      The 10-yr-old….well, he’s smart. But he’s a comedian. He’s likely to throw a rowdy party in my absence. He still needs me to call him down off the ceiling fan.

      I’ve been meaning to subscribe to your blog for months! Going to go do that now….

      • Wow, your 10-year-old sounds like a handful! I’m glad Bug seems to have enough of what your 6-year-old has to keep him off the ceiling fans. Thanks for subscribing! I enjoy reading your blog so much!

    • Thanks, Mark. I hope mine will still want to talk to me over the years!

      That’s funny – my husband doesn’t know how to pour his own juice. He can pay the mortgage (financially. I do it literally.) but he can’t get up from the couch to get something to drink.

  3. Jess!

    Love that title. Which came first? Did my blog inspire this post or had you already written it?

    It doesn’t matter. This is beautiful, and I’m so glad I’m finally subscribed!

    Even Monkey at 11 still ocassionly calls down for “Cud-cuds!” He would kill me if he knew I said that, but it’s true. And I love those rare moments. Because he doesn’t really need me, he just wants to be sure of us.

    Great post!

    • I’ve been maudlin all month long as his 7th birthday creeps up. Your post that day pushed me over the edge. In a good way. 😉

      “He just wants to be sure of us.” Love that. And totally get it, too.

  4. This is so sweet and lovely and every good adjective I can think of…

    Here’s a little secret from the Gardner household:

    My son is 14. And he still wants me to come say goodnight to him. Even though he stays up later than I do, even though he is FOURTEEN!

    He tells me he’s going to bed (sometimes I’m already in bed myself reading) and I walk him into his room. I’ll start to say “Good night, I love you,” but he stops me. “I’m not ready to love you yet,” he says.

    Then he climbs into his top bunk, slides under the covers, puts his head on his pillow and says, “Okay. I’m ready. I love you, now.”

    Seriously?

    I’ll take that for as long as I can. And when it stops (which it finally actually is this summer because he stays up just so late) I will still always have it.

    In my memory. In my heart. (but shhhhh. he’d die of embarrassment if he knew I told anyone.)

    So enjoy your boy, Jess. He is precious.

    • Today, my son took me downtown Chicago. He showed me where all the sites are. He paid for my ticket into the Hancock building and took me out to lunch. Where did my little boy go? I understand your amazement.

      • Oh my gosh, your little boy is a young man. I’m at the same time dreading the day he will be an independent adult and looking forward to it, because I know he has the makings of a great man. Thanks, Kim.

    • Thanks, Julie. I’m holding out hope for those teenage years and the glimmers of him needing me. And if not, I’ll just remind him that he started out as a mama’s boy once. Before he grew out of it by the time he was 2 and Dad was a superhero.

      I’m not above bribing for those tender moments.

  5. Bug sounds a lot like my oldest son. Of course I’m glad he’s so mature and responsible, but they period where he needed his parents to do things for him was incredibly short. I started asking him for advice when he was only eight.

    • Maybe it’s part of the Firstborn Syndrome. He is truly impressive as an almost-7-year-old. So you’re saying a year from now, I can ask Bug for advice? That’ll render Girls’ Night Out obsolete. Except for the wine drinking.

  6. Great stuff, Jess. When Slim started sneaking up in the middle of the night to raid the fridge, we knew he was growing up.

  7. Ah, I’m familiar with this type of child. You have what we call a “little old man.” Another symptom of this advanced child is their need to sometimes tell on themselves before assigning discipline and sending themselves to theirselves room. Also, they are better at pronouns than me.

    • My own Benjamin Button. Sort of. That’s weird. Although, once, when I was joking with Bug about how Bean looked like an old man because she was bald and toothless, he said, “What if a baby was born old?” F. Scott’s got nothin’ on my kid.

      • That is amazing. He is gonna make his writer mama proud! I can only hope that if I have a kid, they at least grasp on to writing or math. Great post! And excellent job with the whole passing down great genes thing.

  8. What a great post!
    I’m not a parent, so I can never truly relate… but hey! I’ve got a wonderful mother! So I know your son will really appreciate this! 🙂

  9. That (Independence) is pretty incredible given that he is the first born babe! My first is the princess extraordinaire. She would starve before getting herself anything (in her early years – she is a great cook now). My second is much more independent and my third calls the shots! That child will scale the fridge and whip up a 3 course meal at his ripe old age of 6yrs!

    What a sweet post. And they always need us no matter what their behavior suggests or how old they get 🙂 I keep repeating this fact to myself to get me through the “growing up.”

  10. Wow this is pretty freaking awesome. Sad in a “Cats in the Cradle…” kind of way, but so very beautiful.

    Thanks for writing this. I feel like it speaks to me right now, particularly.

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