I should have known what was coming when Mario offered me a handshake on the first day of school, rather than a goodbye kiss. I insisted on a hug at the very least, and got the one arm pat on the back instead. From my 2nd grader! Ouch! This isn't supposed to be happening yet, is it? Isn't my baby still in there somewhere, wanting to cling to my leg and stay with me all day?
There are other signs, too. The other night, Bowser and I played some Wii with Mario after the little Goombas went to bed. Mario was thrilled, since he doesn't get a whole lot of alone time with Mom and Dad anymore. Then out of nowhere, he starts using words like, "dude," and "freaking," and "mad skills" and I was all, like, "Wha??"
For instance, on his first throw of our bowling tournament, he said, "Dudes! Did you see that? I was all, like, Wham! Strike!" Later he said to Bowser, "Oh Man! Was that the bomb or what?" Ummmmmm....huh? I can't quite put my finger on when it happened, but sometime over the last few months, we became Dude and Man, instead of Mom and Dad.
Then he really hit us with it. We were all doing silly little dances if we made a strike or spare. I could see the wheels in Mario's brain turning away. When he made his next strike, he turned to us, pulled down his pants and MOONED us, shaking his little, white tush all around. I couldn't decide if I should collapse into a fit of laughter, or cringe in horror. Where on earth did my 7-year-old sweetheart learn such a.... such a.... well, such a COLLEGE like move?????? I decided to go with the laughter, since it was actually, really very funny.
Then I decided to return the favor. The next time I made a strike, I thought it would be fun to steal his little dance move, so I mooned him and Bowser. This was the response, "OH MY GOD, MOM! That is SO GROSS!" Talk about a blow to the old ego. I thought at least it would illicit a giggle out of him.
When I look back to when I first started acting like my friends and started being embarrassed by my parents, I guess I honestly have to say it was around second grade. There was a particular incident that I remember now with just a tinge of guilt. At our elementary school, we had a parents day when Moms and Dads would come eat gourmet cafeteria food with their little students. I was in 2nd grade at the time, and had just started to be noticed by the "popular" girls. (sigh...yes, unfortunately there are popular girls even at such a young age.) When my Dad came down the hall to meet me for lunch he picked me up and swung me around in a big huge hug. My response to him? "Dad! Stop it! You are embarrassing me!" Ugh. When I think back on that now, it makes me have a knot in my stomach. I can't believe I said that to my Daddy. And now I know just what he felt like. Ain't karma a bitch?
Mario is still young, though, and every once in a while I see the little boy in him sneak out for a moment or two. While we were watching "How to Train Your Dragon" the other night, he reached for my hand during one of the more intense scenes. I didn't say a word, I just let him squeeze and hang on for as long as he wanted. When Hiccup defeated the mean dragon, he sort of loosened his grip on me and said, "Oh, Man! I didn't even realize you were holding my hand!" I tried to keep holding on, but he wasn't afraid anymore and the big, tough kid came and took over again.
I am so proud of my Mario and all he has become, is becoming and will become. But, I am not quite ready yet, to let go of my sweet little Mario, who used to cling to my leg and tell me he wanted to live with me forever. I am going to keep looking for and hanging on to those little boy moments even as they become fewer and farther between. Because, Mario, dude, no matter how old you get, I am always going to be your Mommy. Ain't that, like, so awesome, man?!?!