I was in the last city of our visit to South Africa when I realized it - my first child is now a man. This realization is different for every mother of a son. For some of my girlfriends, it’s a sad time… one of loss. For others, it’s with a sigh of relief. And they can’t wait for his big rusty butt to get out of the house.
For me, it’s a weird, strange feeling. Almost like I don’t know who he is or where he came from. He still has the same round face, the lashed brown eyes, the happy smile, and that charismatic personality that allows him to make friends with anyone anywhere at any time. He still hugs me, and kisses on me, and (tries) to sit on my lap.
But now, he’s my height and almost my weight. He’s wearing men’s sizes in clothing and shoes. He’s very discerning in what he’ll wear and how he’ll wear it. He walks with that male assuredness that women find attractive – it’s almost a pimp. Barack Obama – style. You know what I’m talking about.
In South Africa, he was protective of his family – grandparents, mother and younger brother. He was very confident as he walked around and directed my mother and me through a large mall when we’d lost our way. He always opened the door for us and stood back to allow us to go before him – looking around as though he would take someone out if they tried to harm us.
He and I had to share a room for a couple of days during our trip to South Africa. When he was sleeping was the only time I saw my baby boy. My first child. I could see traces of the infant they placed in my arms to suckle for the first time in the hospital. But then, he turned over, grunted, scratched and woke up. The baby was gone and the man was back. I continued to stare at him in… what - Confusion? Wonder? Amazement?
When did it happen? I had definitely seen glimpses of it on occasion. But I hadn’t had a chance to really sit still, be quiet and absorb it until our trip to Africa.
This man-child transition happens at different times for boys. And a lot has to do with the home situation. Single-parent? Older sister? Older Brother? No siblings? Younger sibling? Multiple siblings? A father in the house? A father who cares versus one who doesn’t? A mother that treats her man-child more like a child than the man he eventually becomes? Cherished versus un-cherished?
Age has nothing to do with it. Experiences, circumstances and lifestyle have everything to do with it. Because of this, I won’t even discuss my son’s age in this blog – it has nothing to do with it. All I know is, he’s a man and I’m stepping back to allow it.