Home­bound, for now

The Covington News - - Opinion -

I have to get out soon, though. The cool snap brought to my at­ten­tion that nei­ther of my kids can fit into the pants they wore last win­ter. They’re all ei­ther too short, too snug, or both. For Eli, it’s not such a big deal. We’ll go up into the at­tic and bring down the box con­tain­ing the size seven hand-me-downs from his brother.

But Zachary is a whole other ex­pen­sive prob­lem. He needs clothes, and he’s picky about what he wears now. No longer does it work for me to hit the con­sign­ment sales and bring home stuff that he’s will­ing to wear. Be­sides that, he’s get­ting hard to fit. The past few times I tried to shop without him, ev­ery­thing I brought home was too small, too big, or in his opin­ion, too ugly. So now, at just the time he is least likely to be both­ered with some­thing as mun­dane as clothes shop­ping, I get to drag him around town in search of a win­ter wardrobe.

I couldn’t pos­si­bly del­e­gate this task to the hus­band, ei­ther. He’d blow the whole bud­get on a cou­ple pair of ex­pen­sive jeans – without mak­ing the child try them on first – or he’d come home with an en­tire cam­ou­flage wardrobe. Mama can’t take a chance on that.

Zach will be 11 in a few months and has of­fi­cially hit the stage my friend Heather told me was com­ing. She is the mom of two grown sons. They vis­ited us when her boys were teens and I had a tod­dler and preschooler, both ex­cep­tion­ally picky eaters. She said once my kids hit the pre-teen years, they’d start grow­ing so much and be so hun­gry that they’d eat any­thing I gave them. Hon­estly? I didn’t be­lieve her.

But she was right. Zachary will now try things that even six months ago, he wouldn’t take a sec­ond look at; much less ac­tu­ally stick into his mouth. He’s start­ing to earn nick­names such as the Fridge, the Pit and the Garbage Dis­posal. His fa­vorite line? “Are you go­ing to fin­ish that?” fol­lowed closely by, “What’s for dessert?” Both ques­tions are asked im­me­di­ately af­ter he’s hoovered down his own meal in record time and scans every­one else’s plates like a vul­ture cir­cling a car­cass.

The rest of the fam­ily must look like starv­ing refugees, hunched over our plates, try­ing to hide our last tasty morsels from the lit­tle buz­zard. Some­times I throw him a bite or two just to make him stop hov­er­ing.

Zach’s feet and hands are al­ready as big as mine. He’s moved up to men’s size shoes – an­other big­ger ex­pense – and of course, I knew this was com­ing. But I just wasn’t ready for it yet. He’s grow­ing up so fast. Be­fore I know it, my lit­tle birdie will be ready to fly the nest.

Ex­pe­ri­enced par­ents warn me to brace my­self for this next sea­son of par­ent­ing, with all the joys and heartaches of im­pend­ing ado­les­cence. I think we’ll be okay – as long as we keep the house well-stocked with gro­ceries.

Kari Apted may be reached at kari@kari­apted.com.

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