He is growing like a weed. But it’s a weed we cultivate, a weed we help grow. We will never pull him up by the roots or attempt to eradicate his existence. He is growing like a weed and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Although he’s the little brother, he’s always measured taller than the other two were at the same age on our makeshift growth chart in the kitchen behind the basement door, where dozens of pencil lines are marked with names and dates, growing higher on the wall as the years have passed. It won’t be long before he surpasses the heights of his brothers, who have probably stopped growing.


He is growing like a weed. They all do, at this stage, at some point. The same thing happened with our other two sons. One day they were tender, green seedlings looking up into their mom’s eyes, and then the surge of adolescence hit.


It seems like they go to bed as little boys and wake up taller and ganglier than the night before. Their arms and legs stretch out first, with the rest of their body catching up soon thereafter. Their calorie intake at this point seems infinite (because it is). Their feet look too big for their bodies. Voices deepen. They tower over their mom, who now finds herself looking up at them.


And then, just as soon, this gangly awkwardness turns into the confident swagger that nature intended. Muscles fill in the previously lanky spots. Jawlines become chiseled. Shoulders widen. Boys become men. Girls, in their own set of changes, become women, and things like prom and dating loom on the horizon. Sigh.


I’ve been through this before; I know some things are as inevitable as him growing taller than me. He’s got his own ideas about the way the world works. Everything I do is embarrassing in his eyes. I’m ready for this and won’t feel the sting of hurt so much this time. I think. I hope.


Oh my goodness, though, he is my last. Our last. The great final crescendo to our parenting symphony. It brings tears to my eyes: ending this portion of our lives, even though we are ready for the next. Most days.


I can’t help but feel a lump in my throat, even when he is telling me I am embarrassing. Especially when he is telling me I am embarrassing.


Because I realize even this is a stage. Short-lived. Fleeting.


He is my baby. Always will be, although he’d probably deny it if asked now.


I told him the other day how happy I am we added him to our brood. Four seemed like a lot. It is a lot and my husband and I talked long and hard before deciding to go for one last caboose. He was the result. When I told him about my happiness regarding his being, he smiled and gave me a genuine hug.


“Thanks, Mom,” was all he said.


It was all he needed to say. Heck, the hug would have been sufficient to make me grab for the Kleenex.


He is growing like a weed, at a speed we can’t comprehend. A metamorphosis is taking place before our eyes. He has ideas and goals for the future. I respect him for that, but it is another sign of his impending independence and eventual adulthood.


He is growing up and preparing to fly. We will blink and it will be over. Soon the growth spurts will be a thing of the past. He will tower over the rest of us. And if I’ve done this mom-thing right, I will continue to look up to him – in more ways than one.


Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.