Some months ago, Malcolm was having trouble falling asleep and asked if I would come talk to him.   Bedtime books and stories already largely a thing of the past, this was a rare request.

Specifically, he wanted to hear stories from my childhood.  So I regaled him with the tale of the time I ran away from school in second grade and feared, more than anything, being paddled by the principal upon my return the next day…the incident where my little brother was spooked by a raccoon that had broken in the house…the time my Girl Scout friends and I found a pistol in a crusty old sock on a sandbar in Missouri’s Current River during an 80-mile canoe trip…my stories went on and on, one flowing into the other, Malcolm listening in rapt silence.

Finally he spoke up, his voice faint and sleepy. 

“Mom?”  “Yes, Malcolm?” 

“I’ve enjoyed having you here.”

And that was when I knew that, in the nicest way possible, my youngest child was wishing me gone.  I was dismissed.  He got his message across so sweetly.  So diplomatically, so maturely.  

And yet, although I was smiling when I twisted around to get down the ladder from the top bunk, picked my way through the minefield of damp towels and giant shoes and well-thumbed Guinness Books of World Records on the floor and quietly closed the door, it was a little glimpse into the future. 

A future that involves a door, and being ushered out of it. 


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