Shane Always Seems Young.

I leaned over to kiss Shane’s head and realized, He’ll always seem young.

Kids have a certain smell, a sweet and darling and wonderful smell, that starts when they are born. I used to believe that it was the smell of baby shampoo, but then Johnson’s changed their formula and that theory went kaplooey. Then I thought it was the smell of clean diapers that I enjoyed – which is notably better than the smell of dirty diapers – but that wasn’t it, either.

It’s just … baby smell. And then it grows into kid-smell, which is just as pleasant.

Then the teen hormones kick in, and kids – at least my kids – start to stink.

I can remember the first time I went into Dylan’s fourth grade classroom, to help the teacher with a science experiment (and to spy on Dylan, who was completely zoned out during class). The class took place right after recess and some of those kids – whew! – I thought I was going to pass out. Fourth grade is too young for deodorant, I think, but apparently other kids sometimes need it that early.

Anyway, Shane doesn’t stink yet. He has had his stinky moments, but he doesn’t stink. And in comparison to Dylan, whose entire bedroom smells like a locker room in spite of my efforts to keep the sheets clean and his shoes sprayed with deodorizer – well, compared to Dylan, Shane actually smells okay.

And that’s where the interesting part comes in: compared to Dylan, Shane always seems young.

When Dylan was in sixth grade, I remember thinking he seemed so old. He was almost twelve, and so tall and seemingly independent. He was starting in his middle school journey, practically to high school already, and heading off into the wild-yonder-ish teen years.

Shane just started sixth grade – and he seems so young. He’s just barely starting middle school, while Dylan is already in high school. He’s shorter than everyone in the school, even though he’s tall for his age, because he’s still a sixth grader. He looks tiny, to me, going off to class – even though he looked huge in elementary school.

And it took me until now – just now – to realize that no matter how old they get, Shane will always seem young in comparison to Dylan. I will always feel like I’ve lived through … whatever-it-is … already.

Middle school, check. High school, check. College, check. Graduation, check; twenty-first birthday, check; fiftieth birthday, check, check, check… Of course, there are a few subjective things – maybe marriage won’t happen in order, or grandchildren, or even career decisions. Sure, it might get mingled a bit down the road. Or mangled.

But to me, Shane will always seem young.

And ironically Dylan, who is already way taller than me, will always seem young, too.

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