‘You got everything?’ A question and love language newstrendslive

My son had to be at school at 6:45 on a recent Saturday morning to get on a team bus for a tournament in the suburbs.

It was dark and cold and the parents all waited in our warm cars while our kids messed around on the sidewalk and gathered their gear and slowly filed toward the idling bus. And just as the team started to board, a mom popped out of her car and yelled in her son’s direction, “You got everything?”

I didn’t hear his response. I was too busy having a visceral, embarrassingly emotional response to her question inside my car.

Because “You got everything?” can, indeed, mean, “You got everything?” And maybe it did.

But I know it can also mean, “I love you.”

And, “Wait, let me ride the bus with you.”

And, “How did you get this old this fast?”

And, “I’ll see you at the tournament.”

And, “I promise not to embarrass you.”

And, “Please don’t break anything, please have fun, please be a good teammate, please win with humility or lose with grace or whatever your coach tells you to do, I’m honestly not sure at this age.”

And, “Please let the bus driver be safe.”

And, “Please stop growing. No, keep growing; it’s a privilege and a gift to watch you grow.”

It can mean all the things that come rushing out of your heart — but never your mouth, certainly not in public, anyway — when your kid reaches an age you find bewildering and magical and, frankly, a little out of the blue.

For me, this age has been 13.

One day you’re buying Pokemon cards, and the next day you’re buying cologne and they’re taller than you are and their feet are bigger than yours and they hardly ever turn their heads to check if you watched them make that goal, score that run, hit that note, board that bus.

And you can’t yell “I love you” in front of their friends, even though it was just yesterday (wasn’t it?) that they would yell “I love you” in front of their friends and you would yell it back and their friends wouldn’t flinch because a bunch of them were doing the same thing.

So you find other ways to yell it. You cheer a little louder than is probably necessary or appropriate inside a suburban youth sports complex. You linger a little longer than you need to after drop-offs. You watch them make that goal, score that run, hit that note, board that bus — whether they’re watching you watch them or not.

Because you realize that all the people who warned you how fast it would all go were exactly right, even though you doubted them and, actually, kind of loathed them for a few years there. Especially the years when the time between an afternoon snack and bedtime lasted roughly 47 hours, and 46 of them were spent in tears — yours or a child’s.

And you realize that of all the enemies — all the things you spend fearing and combating and mitigating and protecting against once this little person enters your life and completely takes over your heart — time is the sneakiest. It always wins.

And it’s never guaranteed. Not another day of it. Not another minute.

It’s a gift. It always has been, even when someone was in tears and bedtime was 47 more hours away. It always will be.

And we get to be intentional with it. And try not to squander it. Or overload it with meaningless tasks or mindless pursuits or people who mistreat us. And sometimes we fail. And sometimes we don’t.

And sometimes this lesson about time — the one people (and coffee mugs, and Instagram posts, and Harry Chapin songs) have told you over and over — takes the shape of a teenager. Or a college graduation. Or a wedding. Or a first job. Or something less celebratory. Something sorrowful.

And sometimes it takes the shape of a mom, hopping out of her warm car into a chilly, dark morning to yell to her baby boy, who is somehow — bewilderingly, magically — approaching 6 feet tall and starting to shave and boarding a bus with neither her assistance nor her company: “You got everything?”

Because all of the other words have to stay inside her heart. Yours too. Which is a perfectly good home for them to wait, biding their time, until it’s OK to say them out loud again.

And it will be. Soon.

Heidi Stevens is a Tribune News Service columnist. You can reach her at heidikstevens@gmail.com, find her on Twitter @heidistevens13 or join her Heidi Stevens’ Balancing Act Facebook group.

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