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Is it time to start pushing out of the nest?

If love is about letting go then why does it have to happen so fast?

Other parents warned me to savor those days when my child followed my every footstep, watched my every move and looked at me like I was his biggest superhero.

“Next thing you know, you will turn around and he won’t give you a second glance as he is headed out the door,” one father cautioned me.

But no one told me it would happen before my son turned 3.

I admit that just six months ago, I wondered when he would stop getting underfoot. There were times when he clung to me like Velcro. Wrapped around one of my legs, Gibson loved to stand on my feet as I hobbled around the house.

When we walked around town, he begged to climb in my arms, sit on my shoulders or hang from my back.

It didn’t take long for the clinginess to get old, especially when I was trying to have some “me” time at home. Just trying to read the newspaper or the Internet was impossible with a 2-year-old scaling my body like a rock climber, nevermind the incessant singing.

I admit I complained back then, but I would take it all back now that Gibson has left me in the dirt.

“Leave me alone, Daddy,” and “You not come here,” are now more likely to come from my nearly 3-year-old’s mouth than any other phrase.

Gibson has decided he no longer needs Mom or Dad as walking companions. When we take to the sidewalks, he stays at least 10 feet ahead or behind. When we reach the street corner, he doesn’t wait to see if Mom and Dad are turning. He takes whatever direction Gibson wants to take.

Lately, there is a serious independent streak in the kid. He is ready to discover the world and test the limits, but he wants to do it on his own.

Thankfully, he still keeps Mom and Dad in his sights on his independent explorations. As he walks down the sidewalk, he makes sure that we are at least a half of a block away — any more and a startled look of worry appears on his face as he makes a beeline in our direction.

I am all for independence especially under parental guidance and rules. Doing so encourages learning and confidence. But lately I am feeling jilted now that my son no longer wants me to join him at the dinner table, read a book to him or even help brush his teeth.

“Move, Daddy. I do it myself,” he recently told me during a dinner on our front porch. He decided just having me sit beside him was giving up too much of that new-found independence. Instead, he directed me to sit several feet away on our front steps.

“I eat by myself,” he said.

I guess a dad should feel proud to see his son eagerly undertake so many new things. In the last six months, Gibson has started to learn how to dress himself, brush his teeth and do many other daily tasks by himself.

I do feel proud, but I also sense that the time is going by so quickly, and when I turn around he really will be leaving home for good.

At night when I tuck Gibson into bed, the two of us enjoy reviewing the day in the dark. In the past Gibson pleads with me to stay in his room until he falls asleep. However, recent nights have been accompanied by another type of pleading. “Leave, Daddy,” he says.

Thankfully as I reached to close the bedroom door the other night Gibson added his own words of assurance. “I love you Daddy,” he said from his bed.

It was enough to make me smile for a few moments.

I just wish the process of letting go didn’t have to start so soon.


Ben HIllyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by email at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.