06/10/2013 08:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Pre-Empt Chronicles: My Last Lunchbox Note To My Son

This has been a week of lasts.

Not of the last-in-line, or last-to-call, or last-to-arrive variety. But of the end-of-routines-established-to-raise-your-children variety.

I know what you're thinking: Behind every last is a first, waiting to happen. And you're right. But this week, the lasts are coming fast and furious, and the new stage of firsts -- when college starts -- are still a few months away.

My youngest son is graduating from high school, and I am, as they say in Yiddish, verklempt.

For him, it's an exciting week. It means he's done. He's accomplished his goal. He's on his way to something new. I'm done, too. I've accomplished my goal. We feel the same -- with one major difference: These lasts remind me of his firsts. He just can't remember that far back.

The last homework: The first was in first grade. The assignment was to draw a picture of me. He nailed it -- my hair was BIG. The last was to study for his last final. That was big too.

The last sandwich: I packed his first in a Batman lunchbox when he was in pre-school. It was peanut butter and strawberry jelly on sourdough, minus the crusts. Beneath the wrapper was a note from me. Since he couldn't read yet, I drew hearts. Over the years, the hearts gave way to words. Today he prefers his peanut butter naked, and packed in a plain, note-free lunchbox. For his last sandwich, I honored his request and slathered it on a roll, hold the jelly and the note. Had I written one, it would have said what I thought the moment I first held him in my arms: My beautiful baby boy, I'll love you forever.


The last breakfast: His first school-morning breakfast was a bowl of Cheerios with milk, and a cup of apple juice. He talked nonstop. For the last breakfast of his childhood years, he had leftover boneless apricot chicken with buttered, eggless noodles, a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice, and a very large cup of black coffee. He said nary a word.

The last Are You Up?: I've asked this throughout his life. Every day. At all hours of the day. He's had more alarm clocks and back-up alarm clocks than anyone I've ever known. Even our dog was an alarm clock. I'd send him in and he'd sit and face my sleepy boy and bark and sniff his curly head until he woke up.

The last Have a good day: I said it on his first day of pre-school and every day of school thereafter -- for the next 14 years. And I meant it with all my heart every single time.

The last Please excuse my son note: The first one I wrote for him was in Kindergarten. He didn't want to wake up early, so he was late. The last one I wrote for him was five days ago. He didn't want to wake up early -- late again, for the umpteenth time. No more mom notes -- I won't be there to write them anymore.

So what comes next?

If food is love, I've done what I can to express mine.

If being there every morning to say Have a good day is love, I've done what I can to express mine.

If writing please excuse my son notes is love, I've done what I can to express mine.

If bugging my son about homework is love, I've done what I can to express mine.

If being a back-up alarm clock is love, I've done what I can to express mine.

The last sandwich is made. The homework's all done. The alarms have all gone silent. The dog can't go with him to college. He's ready. I'm ready. Or as ready as we'll ever be.

New firsts, here we come. My beautiful young man, I'll love you forever.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

What Do You Miss About Your Children Now That They're Adults?