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Do they ever stop growing?

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Later this month, my baby boy Hayden will turn 14. Next year, he’ll be off to high school, and before you know it, he’ll be all grown up and out of the house. 

I always thought it was a cliche, but it’s true. They really do grow up in the blink of an eye. It seems like just yesterday I was holding a little, squishy bundle of joy we called Hayden in my hands, and now, as much as I hate to admit it, he towers over me. 

In recent generations, the Massey men haven’t really been all that tall - though I am told that my namesake (my great grandfather) was a fairly tall man. But, if the current trend is any indication of future generations, the Masseys should be giants by the time my great grandchildren come around. My father has never quite come to terms with his heights. His driver’s license says he’s 5’ 7”, but the reality (and my mom will vouch for this) is that he’s probably closer to 5’ 5”. I’m 5’ 9” on my license, but I like to tell people the truth - I’m 5’ 9.5.” When you’re of average height, that half an inch is important. 

For years, I’ve taken some satisfaction in being taller than my father and having more hair, but now that I have my own son who will soon be towering over me and my hair isn’t quite as thick as it used to be, I’m really regretting some of the jokes I made as a teenager. Karma really loves to stick it to you when you least expect it.

Over the past few years, Hayden has really been sprouting up, but I would say his biggest growth spurt was  in the past year or so. I used to chalk his extra height up to his sometimes crazy hair. When he lets it grow out, his wild curly hair becomes a giant helmet atop his head. Alas, I was only fooling myself. The top of my head doesn’t even come to his hairline now. The boy recently hit the 6 foot mark, and honestly, there’s no end in sight to his growth. At this rate, in a couple years, we may have to get somebody in to install bigger doorways at our house.

These genes obviously come from my wife Casi’s side of the family. My stepson, Isac, who is 15, also is now taller than me, but even he is shorter than Hayden. Our youngest, Conner, on the other hand, may have gotten his looks from his mother, but I think he got his height gene straight from me. He’s the one son that I don’t think I’ll have to worry about towering over me.

The newfound tallness coupled with all the extra testosterone that comes with being a teenager has led these boys to constantly thinking they should challenge me. It’s like we’re a bunch of wolves, living in a cave and every once in awhile they need to test the pack leader. There’s some evolutionary drive inside boys to one day try to become the alpha male. Hayden’s evolutionary drive manifests in random surprise attacks every time I come home from work. It’s pretty playful right now, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to get serious with it pretty soon. I need to get the bluff in on him while I still can. It won’t be long before he’ll be able to manhandle me, and my evolutionary drive tells me I can’t let that happen. I think this is why cavemen only lived to be in their 30s.

The constant threat of bodily harm isn’t even the worst problem with raising giants. Along with my person, they’re also constantly attacking my wallet. I now completely understand the old “eating us out of house and home” saying. We absolutely cannot keep anything remotely snack like in our home for more than a week. Family size bags of chips might as well say single serving on them. One of my all time favorites is microwave popcorn, but now I rarely even get a bag for myself before they’re gone. And it’s not just the unhealthy stuff that goes quick. A bunch of bananas might last a couple days. Oranges will hold on for just a few more days past the bananas, mainly because I think my kids are too lazy to peal them. 

I used to accuse my wife of having secret snacks, but in all honestly, it wasn’t so much of a secret as I’m not good at looking for things and get completely surprised when she gets a treat out of the cabinet. But, now I’m not ashamed to say that we legitimately have secret snacks. Things that we don’t want gone are now put in different areas of the kitchen in hopes that they won’t find them. Eventually they’ll catch on to our game, but we’re one step ahead for now. 

Often times, I feel like being a parent is a constant battle to do just that - stay one step ahead of your kids. There will be times that you’ll kid yourself and say you’re on top of the game, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, we’re never more than a step ahead of them. They’ll keep you young and make you go gray faster at the same time. It’s the never ending struggle and joy of being a parent.

Fines Massey is the editor of the Laclede County Record.

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