My boys, at least. My oldest son begins this evening and already I feel nervous anticipation about this pinnacle point in his growing up. He’s just ten years old, a fifth grader at our public elementary school. Perhaps he’s too young, perhaps it’s too expensive, perhaps it won’t be worth the fight, perhaps I’m trying to make him grow up too soon, perhaps I’m not ready. There is truth in all these thoughts that have been carried by the wind and blown through my mother mind, quick to wonder and cling to doubt.

I hope to raise a son that is kind, thoughtful, sincere, confident, resilient, funny, sweet, complimentary, giving, empathetic and truthful. That kind of boy is the one that some day will be a husband and father and though it seems far away, it’s really not. I can’t be his shadow forever so today I shall remind him who he is and who he would like to be remembered as and in those thoughts, he shall walk to the oldest courthouse in the state of NC and be that person. The one his ancestors would be proud to know; after all, it is he who marks the next generation.

My son will wear the carefully pressed clothes, a bow tie that ties, loafers and chinos. He’s had a shower and carefully brushed his hair; just this month he has taken on this part of his daily preparation and while his three siblings shrug away from the hairbrush each morning, he is quick to swipe it from my hand and stand before the mirror. What does that boy see when he looks at himself? How can we best foster the sons that are boys for just a moment and will be men, husbands and fathers infinitely longer?

Cotillion shall be a jumping off place for his growing childhood, an arena safe from my watchful eye. His friends shall soon arrive at our home and I will smile and quietly listen to their chatter and then I will insist on pictures before they walk two blocks over to the courthouse. I have told him to ask the girl to dance that stands alone and to offer lemonade to the girl that seems quiet. Remember his best manners and listen to the instructor. Yes, it’s just cotillion but for this mama, it’s a chance for her precious firstborn to demonstrate the young man I watch being born from delightful boyhood.

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