Size 10 by Lisa Peet

Do you ever get a break, I wonder, from how fiercely you love them? I'm just curious... how are you supposed to let them leave home, lose jobs, get their hearts trampled on? I know everyone does it, everyone survives it. But sometimes it just seems so unlikely, unless I can just get a little respite from this horrible hot love that hits me behind the knees. Motherhood can be such a mindfuck.
 
G said he'd like to start running and would I take him with me sometime? That made me feel all thrilled and puppyish, for some reason. I mean, it's not like he doesn't ask for my help in other areas. He calls me from Tech Drawing class to ask how high a typical ceiling is, he knocks on the bathroom door while I'm showering to ask how high the flame should be under the pan for an omelet. He acts like I know a couple of things reasonably often. But the running seemed special.
 
He needs the exercise, for one thing - debate isn't exactly what you'd call an aerobic activity, and he's getting a little soft around the middle. I have the feeling he's in for a big growth spurt. His dad is 6'-4", a big old drink of water. G stands about 5'-6" or 7", taller than me, but he hasn't hit the big time yet. Puberty is still just over the horizon - his voice is husky but still unchanged, his cheeks are still peachfuzzy and easily flushed. His feet, on the other hand, are enormous, and his head looks slightly too small for his body right now. The crew cut doesn't help. This is definitely what you'd call the awkward stage. And he's sure-hell got him a little spare tire.
 
Plus, I don't know... there's a certain trust implicit there. He hasn't put himself into my hands as a pupil in a while, much less for something physical. I was honored, in an odd way.
 
So I took him to Newport Center for some sneakers and shorts. He's been wearing the same pair of Adidas all year, old skool, white with black stripes. He picked out Pumas, white with a black swoosh (do Pumas have a swoosh, or is that just Nikes? I'm not really up on my sneaker terminology). Very conservative taste in sneakers, my boy has, none of these things that look like an alien is trying to mate with your feet. Footlocker (Footlicker, I call it, which of course cracks him up) was having some kind of ridiculous sale, and they ended up costing me around $35. They were size 10's, enormous looking, like he should take up waterskiing instead of running. G reminds me of a great dane puppy these days.
 
He didn't want to run this morning, moped around on the couch saying he was tired, the little wuss, but I nagged him into getting dressed and coming out. I showed him how to stretch out on the front stairs, and we started off towards the river. I let him set the pace; he loped, all feet and elbows. All the way I kept up a steady commentary, advising him about approaching dogs and keeping his chest open, praising him constantly. It was so nice running with him. People smiled as we passed.
 
After about 3/4 of a mile he had to walk, and we continued on - walking, then running a bit, then walking. When we walked he asked me questions that reminded me of when he was little: How far had I been able to run when I started? How far do I run now? Do I ever stop? I made him run the last 3 blocks under duress, but he rallied and raced me. I sent him upstairs to shower and ran a couple more miles by myself, feeling all warm and happy.
 
That sounds a little pathetic when I read it over, but I know how it felt. I've said it before - there are some things I can still do for him, but there are many more that I can't. A lot of the things I can do involve shelling out money. A lot of the things I can do involve nagging him. Whatever falls outside those specific areas of expertise is a bonus for me, and I think for him as well.. There was something both sweet and freeing about running by the water with him, my overlarge dear boy, my feet keeping time with the thumpa-thump of my dopey mother's heart.
 
G gave his old size 9 sneakers to my boyfriend. There's something slightly weird about that.