A few mornings ago, my son wore my gloves. It’s not that he doesn’t have his own gloves. He does. It’s just that he only has one pair and he needed them for school, which we were leaving for in less than an hour and I didn’t want him playing in the snow with his school gloves because then his school gloves would be wet. He only has one pair of gloves and even those are his third pair this winter. I didn’t realize that it’s nothing short of a miracle for kindergarten boys to hold onto a pair of gloves for more than a week. Apparently, gloves are very difficult to keep track of when you are busy learning how to read and write and such things. This is why he had to wear my gloves that morning when he played in the snow.
They were big on him, of course, but not that big. It wasn’t like putting my gloves on the hand of a newborn baby. My gloves were not completely useless on him. Sure, the fingers were about an inch and half too long but the gloves were functional. He was able to move the fingers and was no more disadvantaged in my adult gloves than he would have been in his kid-sized gloves.
I watched his face light up as he realized he was able to wear his mother’s gloves. I was all too aware of the other reality I was facing: as he continues to get bigger I will become smaller to him. The shadow that I cast will not always be so long. My footprints will not always be so far apart.
As he grows, my larger-than-life status will fade. He will discover that the monsters I scared from his closet never actually existed. He will discover that the person behind the curtain is actually just a semi-clueless woman trying her best to raise three kids.
I imagine it must be a weird feeling: when your child grows larger than you. When it’s his shoes that can’t be filled, his head that surpasses your own. Even more odd must be when your child’s dreams move beyond your dreams. How odd to watch your child, the same child who used to eat sand and lick dirt, graduate with a degree in biochemistry. It must seem like he’s only pretending, like he’s got your gloves on again.
Only this time, the gloves are his. And they aren’t too big. They fit him just right.