“Mama, can you tie my shoes?”
He hasn’t asked me that in years. He worked at his tie, while I got down on the floor and tied his shoes. My son was watching the clock like a hawk. “I can’t even be one minute late they said or I’ll miss the picture,” he told me.
I looked at his shoes, dark brown leather, the kind his father wears. The slick little round laces were so different from the ones I had last tied on him. When he was five, I remember buying him a pair of New Balance tennis shoes. When I put them on his feet and tied them, he stood up and hopped from one foot to the other, spending just a few seconds balancing on each. Then he proclaimed, “Yep! They give me great new balance!”
As a young boy, he always had to test out new shoes to see how fast they were. No matter how little space we would have between the racks of the shoe store, he would race a few steps one way and then the other and proclaim them fast. The thick flat sport laces of kids’ tennis shoes were so different from the ones before me. These were more mature laces for a grown up shoe – and boy.
I hurried to tie them, only pausing to ask if he wanted double knots. “No, they are fine,” he told me. I looked up at all six-foot-five of him. I saw how anxious he was to get out the door, but I paused a second. My emotions perched on my bottom lids all morning, waiting for permission to fall. My seventeen-year-old had tied his own shoes for many years. But in that moment, on my knees, before my son who is almost a man, I was so thankful. Thankful he was in a hurry – in a hurry enough to ask his mama to tie his shoes.
And one more time, I tied my son’s shoes before he walked out the door for graduation practice. I pulled the bows tight and stood to my feet, still not even coming to his chin.
“Okay, you are ready!” I pronounced. “I’ll grab your gown.”
I followed him to his truck and carefully hung his graduation gown and cords in the seat next to him.
“Have fun. I love you!” I told him and carefully shut the door to avoid catching the gown in it. He backed up and took off down the dirt road.
My tears spilled over as I watched him drive away, and I realized it.
His shoes were way too fast.