The Rockwood Files: The measure of a man

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

For months now, 14-year-old Adam has been asking: “How about now?” And I’ve been saying, “No, absolutely not. You’re still a kid.”

He kept on asking, so certain the time had come. Last week, he asked yet again and insisted on standing back-to-back with me in the kitchen, our heels lined up and touching.

“Look, Dad. Am I taller than Mom yet?”

Tom looked closely from several angles before issuing the verdict. “You know… I think you are. Just barely, but you are a little taller than her.”

I shook my head in defiance. “No way. I think Dad is just telling you what you want to hear.” Still standing back-to-back, I put my hand on top of his head and then slid it over to the top of mine so I could judge for myself.

And there it was – the oh-so-slight but undeniable dip that my hand made as it slid from the top of his head down to mine. It was true. My firstborn –the newborn small enough to fit into a Christmas stocking when he arrived in December, the baby who fit so perfectly in the crook of my arm during those sleepless nights he had colic – he is now taller than me.

My defiance turned into denial. “I still think I’m taller. And even if I’m not, I’m still the person who brought you into this world and changed your diapers, so let’s just remember who’s in charge of who.” I harrumphed off to the sofa while Adam celebrated the milestone of being able to – literally – look down on his mother.

I don’t know why it bothers me. It’s not as if I thought this day wouldn’t come. For many of my more petite friends, their sons and a few of their daughters were already standing eye-to-eye with them by the time the kids were in 6th grade. But I’m five feet, eight inches tall. I thought I’d have more time.

The fact that I’ve had to buy longer pants for this kid every three months for the past two years should have tipped me off that my days of towering over him were nearly over. There were other signs, too. About a year ago, I chatted with a friend on the phone while in the same room with the kids. Suddenly my friend noticed the background voices and asked “Is Tom home? I thought you said he was on a business trip.”

“He is on a trip. That’s just Adam.”

“THAT is Adam? His voice is so low!”

I hadn’t thought much about it until she pointed it out, but it was true. My kid’s voice had changed from that of a young boy to that of someone who could have sung back-up vocals for Barry White. While I’d been busy navigating parenthood’s highway, my kid had suddenly swerved right and took the on-ramp to young adulthood, leaving me with a wicked case of whiplash.

As freaky as it is to see him growing up so fast, there are certain perks. He can carry boxes that are too heavy for me, do his share of the laundry and reach stuff on the top shelf at the grocery store. But he better not pat me on the head and call me a “little mom.” I might not be able to pick him up like I did before or make him sit in the corner when he misbehaves, but I can cut off his supply of pizza and burritos and change the Wi-Fi password, and, for a teenager, that’s just as bad.

Who’s taller now, kid?

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.