"Mom, I want you to pack me a lunch today," the little guy tells me early this morning.
Thankfully, this is requested of me at a point in the morning when I still have time to do so. "Okay," I say, and start putting in raisins, some Cheez-Its, sliced cucumber (one of the few green vegetables the fussy li'l eater still loves) and a raspberry preserves sandwich.
"I want to see what's in it," the kid says after he gets dressed, and I show him.
He grabs the juice box and admonishes me, "Mom, this goes in the mesh bag on the side of the lunch box." Aside from the number of boxes of raisins, everything else meets his approval.
"I wanted to take my lunch today, because my friend T takes his lunch every day," he said to me in explanation. "And so does B. But she's allergic to apples. I'm glad I'm taking apple juice!" Ooookay.
He proudly carries his lunch out to the car for the trip to school.
Once we get there, he lets me walk him through the schoolyard, then turns to me at the side entrance to the school and says, "Mom, I can go in from here," shutting the door on the usual walking him into the classroom. I give him a hug from which he is eager to exit, and turn away, unexpectedly feeling a little sad.
I realized, as I was walking away, that it was because I had seen some of the first signs of a true separation, a transitioning from parental influence to peer influence, those signs being a) conformity, and b) a certain need for independence exhibited in public. b) might be the start of the kid being embarrassed by me, which is not, and has never been, a unique feeling expressed by any child towards their parents...
...it simply blindsided me a little, especially when I came out in some colorful clothes for the Shabbat service tonight, and my son looked up and said, "Mom, you look awesome!"
Uncharted waters a-coming, folks...
For me, anyway.