I got choked up as I watched my son, Owen, walk over to the trash can at Baskin-Robbins. Only months ago, he stood there whining because he needed help throwing his cone away. But today he tossed it in like a future NBA all-star.
My daughter, Josie, took a lick of her ice cream cone and said coldly with mouth full of vanilla, "are you going to cry?"
I wiped away the tears that were collecting in my eyes and said, "I'm just sad I didn't get a cone of my own."
"Maybe next time," she said and went to toss her cone away. Owen stood in the doorway, patiently holding the door open for me and his sister.
As soon as Josie got close enough, he jumped aside so that the door slammed shut in her face. He laughed. It was official, my little boy was becoming a little man.
Owen never went through the terrible two's. He never whined when it was time to leave the park or threw a tantrum when another child took his toy. From birth, he seemed like such an easy-going child and maybe that's because his outspoken, older sister ruled the roost.
My older daughter, Josie, was born with more individuality than most teenagers. So I think her transition from toddler to child wasn't as noticeable.
But in the last few weeks, I've noticed a real change in Owen's behavior. In a nutshell, he's been more difficult. At first, I was frustrated and desperate for ways to get my good little boy back. But then, I realized, that he was just finding a voice of his own.
I may not keep baby books. Or write down first words. Or even remember how it felt when I first saw my children walk.
But I will never forget the moments in recent weeks as I have watched my son grow from my little boy into a little man. I think these are moments that most moms of little boys can remember.
There are subtle moments. Moments that anyone else beside a mom would never notice. Like the way Owen's face looked when he woke up from his long nap today. In just a few hours, his face had changed. He looked a little more grown up to me.
There are also moments that aren't so subtle. Like when it's a struggle to get Owen to leave Eagle Park, especially if there are other boys to play super heroes with.
Or when Owen stands at the counter at Starbucks agonizing over whether he wants Chocolate Milk or Apple Juice, instead of just taking what I grab for him.
He no longer wants to hold my hand while we walk down Castro. He'd rather speedwalk with his sister and fight over who gets to press the button for the crosswalk.
While Owen's newfound independence has made my life a bit more challenging, I can't help but be excited to watch him grow into the person he wants to be. Even though I don't always agree with what his voice says, it's good to hear what's on his mind.
When Owen went to bed last night, I whispered as I tucked him in, "before I forget, I just want to tell you that you were the best little boy that I have ever loved and the best little boy that has ever loved me in return."
He just smiled back at me, probably because I said the word 'best' twice. But I didn't tell him to get a verbal response. I told him to make sure he knew, that we both knew, one chapter of our relationship was ending but another one was beginning. And I was just happy be a part of it.