“Can I help you with that lid, Benny?” I ventured watching as my youngest son took a metal spoon to a metal pull-top lid, trying to pry it free.

“No, Dad, I got it,” he grunted a few moments before triumphantly liberating the seal tin top.  “See!” he grinned, half-proud, half-surprised at his feat.

Later that morning, I asked if he needed me to get his green sandals, the one with the “cammo strap”.

“No, Dad, I’ll get them.”

As we were leaving for the day, he was walking to the car, shuffling through the grass while carrying his stuffed animals and cinch bag to my car, hands full and barely gripping onto his water bottle and snack.

“Ben, let me take something,” I ventured again.

“Nope.  I got it!” a slight smile peeked from the look of pure concerted effort he was putting into the task.

I stopped in my tracks, watched his not so little body balancing, compensating, adjusting as he made his way to the curb.  I watched as my not so dependent boy made his own path into the day.  I marveled at how independent he’d become.

Later that night, as I came in with his brother from walking our dog, Lilly, there was Ben fully changed into his PJs.

“I went, I washed my hands, and I wiped,” he proudly announced.

“I hope not in that order,” I quipped, still marveling in his independence.

He giggled as I walked to meet him at the bottom of the stairs.  “Time for bed, Boo.”

He looked up, his face was losing that cherubic innocence and his eyes were filled with his individual and unique spirit. I smiled down at him, marveling and mourning his developing maturity.

“Daddy,” Ben chimed.

“Yeah, Boo?”

“Can you carry me up the stairs?”

“Yes. Of course.”

And as I picked up his still so little frame and slumped him over my shoulder, I could feel him relax, rest and retreat into the crook of my neck.  His breath swept over the side of my face as he released his yawn, like it was written for a movie.

Maybe he wasn’t so grown up yet.

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