Apron Strings

26 May

Sleeping like a babyI woke up very early this morning with a feverish child cuddled by my side. His breathing was raspy and shallow. Alphonse was hot, yet he was shivering from the cold of the airconditioning. I turned off the cold air and covered him with a light cotton blanket. After a while, his breathing became more regular and peaceful. I let him sleep.

As I read a book quietly by his side, I thought about how much this child, nay, young man, still needs me and his father, even at thirteen. Where neurotypical children of his age are raring for independence, Alphonse still clings to us like a little baby. He needs us for many things, most of all, his security. Many times, he would wake up in the middle of the night just to check if we were there beside him. When I work late at nights, he would fetch me from whatever it is I am doing and beckon me to go to bed. And when A and I are late coming back from a movie or dinner date, he would be sitting in the garage, waiting for us to come home to him.

Yes, of late, he has been more independent, more willing to try out things for himself. He feeds, bathes, and dresses himself, with very little help from us at all. Sure, when he eats he can be very messy as he has not mastered the art of the fork (we use a large tray to catch his spills), and yes, sometimes, he puts his underwear on backwards. Yet each time he does these things for himself, he looks to us for approval, for a sign that we appreciate what he has accomplished for himself.

His big brother, on the other hand, is the opposite. At fifteen, he relishes his independence and guards it zealously. He is quick to barrel through the world with all its ugliness and harshness, knocking down obstacles like one swats flies. These days, he struggles against our apron strings and pulls them taut many times, as if to test our limits as parents. He is no longer a child, and becoming more and more of his own man.

Once upon a time, A and I imagined a time when we would be empty nesters, when the children were grown and responsible for themselves. Perhaps we could travel the world then. Perhaps we could retire in some obscure but picturesque village in his father’s native province. And then, looking at a sleeping Alphonse in the middle of our family bed, A and I quickly dismiss the thought. We would never be empty nesters, and while there comes a twinge of sadness with this thought, there is happiness in it too. Alphonse will never know how it is to be alone and unloved.

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2 Responses to “Apron Strings”

  1. FXSmom May 26, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    I know what you mean about empty nesting. Definitely know what you mean.

  2. leira May 28, 2008 at 12:17 am #

    hi mare!! i can really relate to this topic.. see you soon

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