I have to keep reminding myself that his name is Aharon, not “cutie” or “ziskeit.” He’s going to be bar mitzvah next month, my youngest son, even though I’m not ready. I haven’t ordered invitations or even booked a hall, because I’m in denial. How could he have grown up so fast?

I’ve got such a soft spot for him, this one who’s named after my father, who inherited my father’s looks and personality and interests. Never just one of the pack, because most of the pack had grown up by the time he was born, and, for the first time in years, I could slow down and catch my breath.

We had time to talk together, instead of my just waiting for him to finish talking so someone else could. He never filled me with the same anxieties as the others. They were guinea pigs, but by the time Aharon came along I’d gotten so old and experienced that even the strangest things he did came as no surprise. Not even his insistence on wearing a flowery green kibbutz hat for a year; not his limping home, leaning on a friend, after falling from the roof of the cheder, asking how a person knows if his leg is broken; not even his telling me, just in case anybody asked, that what he’d like for a bar mitzvah gift is a blowtorch.

I fight my denial and take him to buy a hat. The salesman brings hats in our price range and plonks them onto his head. I assure him that this man knows more about how hats fit and which brim size looks best on him than anyone in our fashion-challenged family. He asks if the suit shopping is going to be like this and I tell him, “No, then you’ll be making tough decisions. Black or charcoal? Plain or pinstriped?” He decides, sight unseen, on plain black, as I knew he would — those of us who don’t get fashion dress conservatively.

I’m torn between wanting him to stay my little boy forever and being excited about all the amazing things he’ll do. He’s outgrowing me much more quickly than I’m outgrowing him. He’s already becoming more aware of my faults and limitations, and that I can’t keep him safe. Each of these blows chips away a bit of his innocence and exposes another part of the man he’ll be — still eidel, but tough enough to stand on his own two feet.

I could never bring myself to let go of him, so he’s going to let go of me. He’ll move on. He’ll move away. I look through his gan folder. I tell myself I’m holding on to these scraps of his childhood for his sake, that someday he’ll want to look at the parshah pages he colored, but my heart knows he no longer values them.

I have to keep reminding myself that his name is Aharon, not “cutie” or “ziskeit.” He’s going to be bar mitzvah next month, my youngest son, even though I’m not ready. I haven’t ordered invitations or even booked a hall, because I’m in denial. How could he have grown up so fast?

I’ve got such a soft spot for him, this one who’s named after my father, who inherited my father’s looks and personality and interests. Never just one of the pack, because most of the pack had grown up by the time he was born, and, for the first time in years, I could slow down and catch my breath.

We had time to talk together, instead of my just waiting for him to finish talking so someone else could. He never filled me with the same anxieties as the others. They were guinea pigs, but by the time Aharon came along I’d gotten so old and experienced that even the strangest things he did came as no surprise. Not even his insistence on wearing a flowery green kibbutz hat for a year; not his limping home, leaning on a friend, after falling from the roof of the cheder, asking how a person knows if his leg is broken; not even his telling me, just in case anybody asked, that what he’d like for a bar mitzvah gift is a blowtorch.

I fight my denial and take him to buy a hat. The salesman brings hats in our price range and plonks them onto his head. I assure him that this man knows more about how hats fit and which brim size looks best on him than anyone in our fashion-challenged family. He asks if the suit shopping is going to be like this and I tell him, “No, then you’ll be making tough decisions. Black or charcoal? Plain or pinstriped?” He decides, sight unseen, on plain black, as I knew he would — those of us who don’t get fashion dress conservatively.

I’m torn between wanting him to stay my little boy forever and being excited about all the amazing things he’ll do. He’s outgrowing me much more quickly than I’m outgrowing him. He’s already becoming more aware of my faults and limitations, and that I can’t keep him safe. Each of these blows chips away a bit of his innocence and exposes another part of the man he’ll be — still eidel, but tough enough to stand on his own two feet.

I could never bring myself to let go of him, so he’s going to let go of me. He’ll move on. He’ll move away. I look through his gan folder. I tell myself I’m holding on to these scraps of his childhood for his sake, that someday he’ll want to look at the parshah pages he colored, but my heart knows he no longer values them. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 565)