The nurse handed him to me for a brief moment, his eyes crinkled as tight as his mouth was open, bawling away. As the pain of the episiotomy still lingered, I put up my hands to support him on my breast for a brief moment, before he was lifted away. The nurse pressed his foot to an inking pad and then to a form. That now sits in a shoebox, along with the newborn bracelet, the "I'm a Magee Boy" knit cap, the pair of tiny blue booties that we used to cover his hands to prevent him scratching himself, and a yellowing white body suit.
21 1/2 inches long , the fading print on the paper says. They must have uncrinkled his curled legs to take the measurement, ignoring his protests and wiggles. It was about the size of my index finger, 3 inches long.
He pulled on his shoes, getting ready to haul his book bag to the bus, when I noticed the sock and the big toe practically poking out of a shoe tip. "Is that a hole in your shoe?"
"Yes. I need to get new shoes."
We took him to the shoe store at the brand-new outlet mall near our home.
"His old measurement was a Mens 9, so let me see if he needs the 9 1/2 or the 10 now. Where's the measuring thingummy?"
His father did a double take on the measurement. "11 1/2"
"Are you sure you're measuring it right? Ask the salesman."
"Yes, it's right. He does need a 11 1/2, maybe even a 12".
S turned beet-red. "No, I prefer the 11 1/2." He's flustered enough by the 2 1/2 change in sizes over the past one year.
I measured his shoes : 13 1/2 inches. He's come a long way since the time of the footprint.
The doctor assures me that S is almost done growing, but I'm not so sure. His pants seem to have already shrunk by a couple of inches in the few weeks since I last cleaned out the ones which no longer fit.
We take him to the store to get him a new suit to wear to concerts with his orchestra. I point out the Boys 20 section and we have him try on a black jacket for size. The arms stop about 4 inches above his wrists. We move into the Mens section and try the smaller sizes : No go. Still too short. A suited gentleman walks up to us "Can I help you?"
"What size of suit should we be looking at for him?", my husband asks.
"Try a size 38R." They go into the Fitting room sanctuary to check out a couple of different suits, while M and I wander into the Misses section, aimless, restless. M plays peekaboo among the clothing racks, heedless of my scolding. The store closes in 15 minutes, will we make a selection by then, or is this going to be like the interminable rounds of sari purchases for a wedding, hopping from store to store to store?
Finally, a selection is made, just in time for us to race to the cashiers and have it billed. I promise to take in the extra length on the pant, since the tailors would be able to get it done only the next afternoon, too late for the concert's start.
I stick a pin here and a pin there, as I adjust the fall of the pants to a height just brushing the veins on S's feet. I hand hem the excess. Should I trim it? No, who knows how much more growing he still has left in him in the next few months? I might need to let down the hem again then.
Kids grow like sunflowers, tiny at first, then taller and taller till they tower over you. It's a strange feeling: the first time it strikes you that they are no longer your tiny babies, and still are your babies, no matter how tall and big they get.