Those are the eyes I’m always going to remember.
Nate and I went to the skateboard park the other day. He got lost in the concrete crowd, among a bunch of boys who were about three times his height, and tried to hold his own among the “bowls” and “rails” and “ramps.” He’d hang back, watch the other kids, then throw his board down and give things a try. I was proud of him. He looked fearless. He has his sticker-covered helmet, his scratched-up forehead, and enough holes in his jeans to give clear commentary that he’s a boy who’s not afraid of much.
Every 20 minutes or so, though, he’d ride back in my direction. He’d kick up his board, throw off his helmet and plop into the grass by my feet under the shade of the tree.
I would put my book down and ask him how it was going. “They’re good,” he’d say, shrugging a little and glancing over his shoulder at the bigger kids.
But then he’d smile at me, with his hand under his chin, and look at me in that way, with those eyes. He’s still my little guy. He still comes back and finds his comfort near me, every 20 minutes. Next month it’ll be every 30 minutes. Then next year it’ll be every hour. Then … maybe … not so much. Then he’ll be one of the big kids, doing his own thing. Fearless and not so much needing Mom, who brought him the Thermos of water and has the shady spot under the tree. …
But for now –
Those eyes. …