A silly ol’ grilled cheese sandwich. That’s all it took to trigger all of the lasts of my son’s senior year.
He’s seventeen and, after work and practice he was sitting in his room gaming with his friends. I knocked and opened his door and waited for him to turn off his microphone. (This has been a new thing to get used to. No going into his room and immediately beginning to talk. No. The mike on his headset will pick it up and heaven forbid, all of his friends will hear me telling him that his room stinks like athletic socks and to please throw away all of the fast food trash.)
When I was free to speak, I asked, “Do you need anything to eat?”
He is perfectly capable of preparing his own meals and does so quite often. But, every once in a while, when I know he’s had a long day, I will offer.
“Can I have a grilled cheese?” he asked.
How many more times will I be able to cook for him?
And it hit me. How many more chances will I have to make him a grilled cheese sandwich? I’ve been making them, and perfecting the technique, for so many years. I remember the years of cutting them into triangles and removing the crust. As he grew, he wanted pepper jack cheese instead of American.
Now, his favorite is the use of sourdough bread, two kinds of cheese, and sometimes with bacon or jalapeno. I know how to perfectly brown both sides to a light crisp. I will always remember the time my son, in his best Gordon Ramsay accent, proclaimed that I “had taken the basic grilled cheese and elevated it!”
I knew my son would grow up, graduate, and move out on his own. I believe he is ready. He is mature, responsible, and knowledgeable about the basics of living as an adult. I have talked with him about enjoying every last this year. His last golf tournament. His last basketball game. His last classes. His last homecoming and prom. His last times with his friends.
I’ve been mentally preparing for his senior year
I’ve seen the other mothers of seniors cry at all of the lasts and I was mentally preparing for those events. These were to be my lasts as well. Watching him play high school golf for the last time. Sitting with the other basketball moms in the bleachers, sharing M&Ms, and cheering at the last game. The last time to help him get ready for a school dance. The last time to watch him leave with his backpack for his first day of school as well as his last.
I knew his room would become empty. I knew my laundry loads and grocery bags would decrease dramatically. I knew that someday I would no longer discover a balled up wet sock in the pile of freshly dried clothing. I knew that I wouldn’t hear him in his room talking to his friends. It all makes me sad, but I expected it.
But a grilled cheese? How come nobody thought to tell me to prepare for the last time he would sit in his room and request for me to make him a grilled cheese? I had taken for granted all of these sandwich-making opportunities.
I won’t give up any opportunity to make him grilled cheese
So, I am vowing to not pass up any grilled cheese requests these several months of his senior year. If he wants one at midnight, I will happily fire up the stove. Want one for breakfast? No problem. Does he want one before or after a game? I’ll be ready. I will cherish smearing the bread with butter and arranging the cheese slices perfectly edge-to-edge.
I will pour my love into the sizzling pan. I will think of my little boy who has now grown into a young man, while the bread turns a golden brown. And I will try my hardest to memorize the pleased expression on his face when I carry the sandwich into his room.
And just maybe, when he’s off on his own, he’ll make his own grilled cheese and try to make it as good as mom’s. And maybe, if he starts to miss home a little, he will think about how much he loved when mom would walk into his room carrying a hot grilled cheese. And although it will never be the same, I will be honored to make him one when he comes home to visit.
So, mamas, be aware that it’s not just the monumental last events to prepare yourself for during senior year. It’s also the little things. Who knew how precious two slices of bread and cheese could be?
More to Read:
High School Senior at Home: Why You Need to Dote on Them – Advice from Laura Hanby Hudgens, teacher and mom of four, on why your high school senior deserves a little spoiling this year.
A Letter to All High School Seniors: What I Hope for You – High School teacher Kara Lawler writes to high seniors about what she wants them to know about this upcoming year