When Isaac was a toddler we were living in a small apartment. We’ve always been a shoes-by-the-door kind of family but had no space, so we kept our shoes in an organizer with pockets that hung on a door in the hall. My shoes took up over half the spaces. We could fit two of Isaac’s in one pocket. Jon’s were so big they always had to be in the bottom pockets or they’d get caught and the door wouldn’t shut.
Like most kids, Isaac took Dad’s shoes out and clomped and marched around in them for fun. He’d pretend to get bad guys and be Daddy and then leave one on the stairs and one wedged in the couch along with his Legos and broken crayons.
About that same time, Jon started finding what he called “shoe presents”. Neither one of us ever witnessed it happening, but everyday, almost without fail, Jon would put on his shoes and find something that had been hidden in one of the toes. Sometimes it was a toy, sometimes it was a golf ball, sometimes a wad of tin foil, but it was always there.
We never saw Isaac in the act and we never discussed it with him. And for the most part, we didn’t talk about it with each other. It was just something that was a part of our everyday, and all of us seemed to like it that way.
One day, the presents stopped. I don’t really know when. We never talked about that either, but when I noticed it made me sort of sad. It meant my little boy was getting bigger and moving past wearing Dad’s shoes to play hero and fight bad guys.
This week, my little boy turned 16. In some ways, he’s still such a kid. He’s still a video game freak and still laughs at fart jokes.
He still wants hugs good night from his mom.
But he’s nearly grown. He’s more than a half a foot taller than me and wears shoes almost as big as his dad’s. He’s getting letters from colleges nearly everyday. He’s job hunting.
I’m afraid if I blink, the two years I have left before graduation will be gone.
And then there will be college. And other huge milestones…all of them the grown up kind.
And then someday, not too terribly far from now, he will have his own little people who want to wear his shoes to fight bad guys.
But Jon and I will always have the shoe presents.
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