As we entered the pediatrician’s office, he headed straight for the toy box.
It is back to school season. Most of the kids here weren’t sick—they were getting their physicals so they could return to school.
I signed in and picked up the paperwork that was waiting for us.
Even my baby, my two-year old, needed his school forms.
Preschool starts this fall.
I can’t believe he’s old enough to go to school.
It seems like just yesterday that I was learning to nurse him, to swaddle him, to tell what his cries meant.
And here we were, completing his school paperwork.
As I sat down on the bench, I nodded to the mom sitting across from me. Her son, about 14 years old, sat with her. He looked up at my toddler, and both he and his mother smiled, laughter crossing their faces. Then he went back to playing Angry Birds on his phone.
A few minutes later, another mom and her son entered. He was 6 or 7 and headed straight for the xylophone. He was too old for it, really, but he was clearly bored by the concept of hanging out in the waiting room. His mother reminded him not to make too much noise.
And, as my son was trying out the series of child-sized rocking chairs, their primary colors worn through the years, another boy, the last boy, walked out from the examination area.
He was older, bigger than all the boys in the waiting room.
He was alone, he didn’t need his mother, and he handed his paperwork to the receptionist. Grabbed his car keys from his pocket.
“Thank you, sir,” she said.
But he was a sir, a man, really. An adult.
It seemed impossible that he had just left the room the nurse would assign to my son, that the same kind doctor would examine them both.
That they could have anything at all in common.
But it wasn’t.
While my boy zoomed trucks across the waiting room floor and pushed the buttons on a toy telephone, I looked at these other boys.
Sitting and standing in stages, spread across the pediatrician’s waiting room.
And even though I know it is our fate, I struggled to believe it.
To believe that the little boy whose shirt was on both inside out and backwards, who was so proud of dressing himself that I couldn’t possibly fix it for him, would one day be one of these boys.
That one day, he would sit, quietly playing on his phone, amused by the antics of little boys.
That he might come to the doctor for his back to school check up without me.
And leave, swinging his car keys.
An air of independence and self-sufficiency and confidence surrounding him.
I hope I can instill that in him.
But, as a mom, it makes me a little sad too.
Because if I do my job right, one day, he won’t need me at the doctor’s office either.
And, to be honest, that breaks my heart, just a tiny bit.