Jeff opened his phone, thumbed around for a minute, and tilted the tiny screen toward me.
I gushed. So adorable.
"James asked me not to show you these in front of him," Jeff commented.
"Why? Because I'd gush and say he's so cute?"
Grim nod. "Yep. He said you'd embarrass him."
A knot of fear tightened in my heart. I've lost my son.
Desperate to regain his confidence, I resolved to be more vigilant to treat him like a man (even though he still has chubby cheeks). Lord, help me.
The next day, as all three of my men headed out to Grandma's, James slipped his hand into mine, shoulder to shoulder.
"Bye, Mom," he said gravely.
Resisting the urge to grab him into a bear hug and smother the top of his head with kisses, I squeezed his hand. Mirroring his gravity, I lowered my voice and said, "James, you're strong and brave, and I respect you."
"I know," he said, slightly exasperated.
Getting deeper into the game, I put my hand on his shoulder (like a guy), and said (like a guy), "I'm proud of you, Son."
He squirmed, "Okay, Mom. Gotta go."
Hmmmm... so... that didn't work. He doesn't want me to act like a man.
I watched him walk proudly to the pickup, climb purposefully into his seat, and buckle up. The first time I'd seen him sans booster. He's 8 now, you know. Old enough to ride in the car like an adult. Old enough to hang arms and head and tongue out the window. Old enough to be treated like a man. But how, Lord?
Glancing up at me, he nodded, struggling between his desire for the brevity of manhood and his sheer little boy glee that wanted to say Look, Mom! No booster!
I shouted down to him, "You're a grown-up!"
His face split into the hugest grin I've seen on him in years. Ah. There he was. I hadn't lost him.
Then it clicked. What he needs from me is admiration. A man of honor does everything he does for the admiration of one woman.
Right now, for James, I am that woman.
Thank You, Abba, for showing me how to reach my son.