As you sleep peacefully on your top bunk in Spiderman pajamas with your inseparable ratty teddy bear under one arm and Hulk under the other, I think about how quickly you’ve grown. It seems just like yesterday you were pooping your Pampers and puking your peas. Before I know it, that ratty teddy bear will be in the attic, Hulk will go to Goodwill and you’ll be sleeping in a bunk bed in some cinderblock college dorm.
I’m not going to be one of those mothers who praises the Heavens, does the Macarena in the driveway and rips the cork out of the wine bottle with bare teeth before your taillights have disappeared down the street. No, my boy. I’m not going to celebrate that you’ve flown from the nest. I’m going to miss you terribly.
I’ll be that idiot helicopter mama who falls to the concrete and sobs. Mascara will stain my cheeks, snot and tears will mix and form a puddle on my chin and your father will lie and tell the nosy neighbors that I must have mixed my acid reflux medication and my antihistamines again.
But before I collapse to the pavement in a puddle of salty snot on our quiet suburban street, I will pull you into my arms and give you some advice.
I’ll tell you to stay away from draft beer. I’m not a scientist, but there’s something about draft beer that makes you sicker than bottled beer. If you’re like your mother, keg beer will also ultimately cause you to rest your sweet baby cheeks on a porcelain toilet seat. And definitely don’t drink draft beer with a straw. Just. Don’t.
Then I’ll tell you to give your chemistry professor my phone number so we can talk about my draft beer theory.
I’ll tell you that I don’t want you to bring a loud hung over girl with big breasts and four first names to Thanksgiving dinner. Please don’t. I don’t want to pass her the crescent rolls. She’s not good enough for you. Not because she’s loud or smells like Boone’s Farm or because she has two over-inflated dodge balls under her spandex shirt or because she has three hyphens in her name, but because you are my son. And no one is good enough for you.
I’ll tell you to study. Don’t be like your mother and waste the entire first year of college learning that draft beer is the devil. Study, boy. Your father and I aren’t shelling out thousands of dollars just so you can hang out with some jackhole named Chad who lounges around the dorm room in his Angry Birds underwear playing Xbox and smoking doobs all day.
I’ll also tell you not to smoke doobs. You can listen to Pink Floyd and eat twelve sliders without being under the influence of anything.
I’ll tell you to use your manners. Treat your teachers with respect. Most of them really aren’t there to make your life miserable. They are trying to teach you something. Listen to what they have to say. Unless they say draft beer isn’t any different than bottled beer. Because that means they are idiots and can’t be trusted.
I’ll tell you to do the right thing. Don’t let your friend drive home wasted. Don’t let that silly inebriated girl go home with Chad. Don’t skip classes. Don’t stay up too late. Don’t forget the morals and beliefs and the loving God Who has blessed your life beyond measure. Keep your head on straight. You were taught to do the right thing. Be like Nike. Just do it, boy.
I’ll tell you that I pulled your prized ratty teddy bear from the attic and hid him in the bottom of your duffel bag. This isn’t “Toy Story 3”. You CAN take your toys to college, and don’t let that Pixar or that traitor Andy tell you otherwise. Just don’t let Chad find Bear. He’d never let you live it down.
I’ll tell you to call me. Don’t just text me (or whatever form of lazy communication is relevant in 2027). Call me so I can hear your voice. I can tell a lot by your voice. I can tell if you’re worried or anxious or overwhelmed or under the influence of draft beer. Call your mama, boy.
I’ll tell you to wash your clothes. I don’t want you to bring any trash bags home for Thanksgiving dinner, but I do want you to have a social life. And no girl is going to let the boy with the t-shirts that smell like sweaty pits hitch a ride in her hatchback covered in sorority stickers.
I’ll tell you that I love you with my heart. I’ll tell you that I’m proud of you. I’ll tell you that I’ll miss you. I’ll tell you that you can do anything you set your mind to. I’ll tell you some other stuff that I learned on an after-school special in the 80s.
And then I’ll let you go.
You’ll look in your rearview and see your crazy mother lying in the fetal position on top of a manhole cover in the middle of the street, surrounded by concerned neighbors and your mortified father, but you won’t be embarrassed. You’ll simply know that you have a mother who loves you more than life.
As you sleep peacefully on your top bunk in Spiderman pajamas with your inseparable ratty teddy bear under one arm and Hulk under the other, I know that you won’t be my little boy forever. So I’ll cherish these moments when we say your prayers and you ask me to read to you or play superheroes.
I’ll cherish these moments before you’ve discovered draft beer and loud mouthed girls who want to change your mind about everything I’ve taught you and Chad with his Xbox Live obsession and Ziploc baggies of Schedule I Controlled Substances.
I’ll cherish these moments before I have to let you go.
Check back later for a letter to the girl…