The other day I was walking around my yard. There in the corner by the basement doors was an old turtle sandbox, filled with Tonka dump trucks, and a little green tractor. I stopped for a minute and looked at them and started to remember my now young man playing with those trucks for hours in our yard. We have a pile of rocks in the driveway and he spent countless hours filling up the dump truck with rocks, making beeping sounds as he backed it up, and went and dumped them in the "woods" by our window which consisted of two little trees and some weeds. He used to take the little green tractor and roll it down one of those Fischer Price orange slides. One day he looked at me before he slid it down and said into my video camera, "This is a green tactor", with the cutest little smile on his 2 1/2 year old face. He was so little and so innocent. I loved watching him get out his plastic golf clubs and hit balls in the yard.
Then if he missed the ball, he'd bang the club on the ground in frustration. He used to take his plastic lawnmowers and walk up and down the yard ever so carefully to make sure he "cut" every single blade of grass. This would keep him occupied for hours. He used to take his green tractors and fill them up with things in the house and move them from one place to another as if he were really working on the farm. We called the big plastic person "Farmer Joe" and the little one "Farmer John". They were real to him, and to me too. I will never give them away. Then, somewhere in between 2 1/2 and 16, he grew up right before my eyes. We went from riding a big wheel, to riding a bike with training wheels, to riding a big bike in the driveway. Then all of a sudden he took the bike and turned off of the street to wherever he wanted to go. "I'm leaving Mom, what time do you want me home?” After that, he went from needing a sitter when we weren't home to staying home alone. Now he stays home alone and watches his little sister when needed. He went from riding his 4 wheeler in circles around the house to leaving the house, out of my sight and going on trails. He went from needing someone to walk in the woods with him to walking alone. He went from taking guitar lessons with me working right with him to printing out his own music and learning a song by himself. All the while this was happening, his dad and I went from 20 something to 40 something. It was all so fast I'm not quite sure how it happened. He used to follow us around everywhere we went wondering, "What are we doing today?" Now when he sees us he wonders, "What are YOU GUYS doing today?" Or sometimes it's "Do we have anything planned today because I wanted to...". We have gone from a baby boy with us at all times to a young man with his own key to the house and a truck. Oh yes, the truck. If you have followed any of my writings, you know that we have a 1990 GMC truck which I refer to as "The Beast". I hate driving it because it's old, loud, rusted out, and rickety. We bought it when my son was about six years old and it still looked pretty good. He always loved that truck. I know it's because of all the memories in it with just him and his dad going to the dump, going hunting, going to ride his 4 wheeler, and driving all around town on blizzard days trying to find the biggest hill in town just to drive up. They keep chains in the back so if someone is in a ditch, they can pull them out. I always know when they take off in the winter time, I won't see them for at least a few hours. For him, it's the fun memories truck. For me, it's the never ending money pit which should retire. He is doing everything he can to keep it running, on his dime now, and we are hoping for at least one more year, so we'll see. I see him outside opening the hood, making sure all the levels are okay, checking brake lines, cleaning it, and whatever else he does. When I see this I can't help but remember him with those Tonka trucks which were prepping him for the real thing one day. Who would've thought. If you have a little boy right now, look around at his trucks and his toys. Look around at his room with the wall paper and comforter set you picked just for him for his age and whatever stage he was going through. Look at his favorite stuffed animal. As for my son, it was "Dog". Dog went everywhere with him and now, Dog sits on a shelf in his room and hasn't been held in years, but he's still there and hasn't been packed up in a crate...yet. I had such a hard time watching Toy Story 3 and when Andy went to college I actually had to choke my tears back. My son asked why I was crying and I said, "Because Andy's going to college." He just laughed at me, unaware, and went about his business. I believe John Lennon said it best with his "Beautiful Boy" song..."Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". Well, that's sure what happened to me. I was there to watch, grow, cry, and enjoy it all every step of the way, but somehow, I still missed it. Enjoy your beautiful boy because before you know it, he will be a young man leaving your house with his own truck key. And hopefully if all your cards are played correctly, he will STILL be by your side except you will have to look up to talk to him. I wish you peace this holiday season.
Debra Field is married to Darren Field and has two children, Andrew and Danielle. She sings in the St. James Church Folk Group and works part time as the Retirement Distribution Coordinator for the Weinberg Financial Group.