Our Boy Has Grown

When he was four, the family dog,
a border collie named “Rounder”
still towered over him. Once he started
school, for what seemed like ages,
he was the smallest boy in the class
by nearly a full head. Then two. Then three.
Half the girls in his class were taller than
him all through elementary. You remember
having to prop him up at the kitchen table,
putting him on the pillows that Aunt Sadie
had given you that one Christmas, his legs
forever hanging down. You look at him now
in the backyard and he’s wider in the shoulders
and all around. “I made him some oatmeal.
In the blue one,” says his mother. When
his mother’s not looking, you add a few
bags of sugar to it and stir them in, one
five-pound bag after the other. He never
outgrew his fondness for sugar. You backup the
pickup to where he’s laying in the yard.
You poke your head out of the side of the cab
and give a yell. “Feedin’ Time, Son!”
He digs in, greedily shoveling the oatmeal
into his mouth with a shovel. You beam
with pride. Maybe in the big city, things
are different, but out here on the great,
plains of Nebraska, there’s really nothing
that makes a father’s heart swell with pride
more than watching his grown son eat
seventy-five pounds of oatmeal out of the
back of a pickup. It is these little moments
that make life as a parent so very wonderful.
When he has finished, he emits several grunts
you translate as “That was good. Thanks for
adding the sugar,” drops the shovel, rolls
over and goes to sleep. By the barn, as you are
hosing the remnants of the oatmeal out of
the truck’s bed, you wonder if you could buy
a used cement mixer, whether that would
make things easier. And like all fathers who
have unmarried sons of a certain age, in this
case, a certain age being the specific age of 35,
you say yet another prayer to the Lord above
that sooner, rather than later, he’ll finally
find for himself a good and strong
woman to take care of him.

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