The teardrops cling to his mile long lashes, but his chin is held so high that they refuse to fall.
The lip is threatening to quiver but the jaw is clenched so tightly that it's not allowed.
It's part defiance.
It's mostly learned behavior.
My first born is eight and has been treated for 7 and 1/2 of those years like he is ten years older. He has always been wiser and more mature than his little body will truly allow him to fulfill. In the after-dinner/pre-bedtime swirl of the evening, I see that he simply can't fill the great big shoes we gave him so long ago.
He is a little boy.
He is not an athlete.
He is not a scholar.
He is not perfect.
He is overwhelmed and his heart is bruised.
I am longing to wipe the tears from the velvet of his lashes and hold him tight until he sleeps in my arms. He needs his Mama to hug him and tell him it's OK.
I reach for him and he pulls away.
"I love you, buddy".
He's gone and I am heartbroken. I need him to let me make it better, but he's learned to do it himself.
We're going to fix that.