Monday, March 30, 2015


Once upon a time, Seth had to help the boys knot their neck ties. 

There weren’t all that many occasions to wear a tie but, for example, Charlie had to get a little spiffed up for wrestling meets.

You know, arriving at an opposing school neat and pressed like a gentleman even though you’d soon be out of your Dockers and on a sweaty mat, breathing like a Brahmin bull.

Back then, Seth would “do” the tie on himself, remove it from his own neck and loop it over the bed post so Charlie could then slip it on and tighten it up in the morning. 

Or, if we were all attending a formal event, he’d tie it right on a still damp but freshly combed young man who smelled like soap and shampoo. I’d whip a warm shirt right off the ironing board and Seth would take a turn with each boy to together bow heads in concentration as the over, under, over was  performed.

The end result, after checking if the tie was now too long or too short, was either a manly tickle match or a delicious – and equally manly, of course -- hug.

Sometimes Charlie wore a Snoopy tie. Sometimes Tom wore a tie with baseballs all over it. Soon enough Snoopy and baseballs were forgotten and subdued stripes became the order of the day. I missed Snoopy and baseballs for a long time.

At some point Seth began saying irrational things about it being time the boys learned to tie their own ties. 

I wondered if he’d lost his mind. No more cozy moments as a double Windsor was created?  But I soon noticed that Seth now had to reach up to make the knot on increasingly tall young men. Suddenly there were Adam’s Apples and stubbly chins and Axe Body Spray.  I saw the writing on the wall.

I hate the writing on the wall. I saw it again last week as Tom – who had been home briefly while waiting for a new job to begin – began packing up some stuff he’d need in his apartment. For a few glorious weeks, he’d been a grown man in his childhood room and I was an active mama again. 

Yes, actually my Mommy did tie my tie
for me this morning.
Suddenly I was on breakfast duty. I was hovering over an adult lummox with blankets when he dozed off on the couch and I got invited along to do fun things like give advice as he picked out a few new suits for the job. He bought some ties, too (none with baseballs) and I found myself getting all misty and fer-klempt under the fluorescent lighting as I remembered the tie-tying rituals of the past. I will also admit, however, that I was not unhappy when he pulled out his own credit card to pay for the clothes. There are, it appears, actually perks to having grown-up kids.

Tom left yesterday. Seth and I, as usual, forlornly waved as he backed up the driveway at breakneck speed and honked festively before zooming off.

As sorry as he, too, was to say goodbye, his roll is that of the young adventurer while ours was to trudge back inside with our cellulite and little bald spot and move to opposite ends of the house to sulk as we always do when the kids leave. 

My Mommy did, too.
We agreed later that having Tom around made Sundays feel as if we didn’t actually have to go to school the next day---that uncomfortable vestige of childhood that still taints a Sunday for us. Having him home made every day feel like TGIF! instead.We’re still pouting this morning but are already feeling better. After all, we’re not totally insane. 

I heard from Tom. He’s okay and revving up for the challenge of a new campaign and we look forward to hearing all about it. We’ll call the boys later and chat, plan and anticipate visits, stalk them on facebook…all as it should be, I know.  

I do, however, wish that Seth had never taught those kids how to tie their own ties. If they hadn’t learned, maybe they’d still be downstairs watching Nick at Nite. Probably not, though---and we can always look forward to Seth’s approaching dotage during which he may forget how to knot a tie and we’ll need one of the kids to do it for him. I, myself, never learned.


  1. Enjoyed this. Made me think about when my sons were young.

  2. Bittersweet!

  3. Wonderful post! As I read it, I was a little misty eyed and missing our son who lives in another state, soon to be another country. It was then that I came to the final picture in your post with your kitty wearing a tie. It cheered me right up. Did he tie it himself?

    1. Thank you so much, Susie! And, I am so glad the pic of Buzzy wearing his tie cheered you. He did not tie it himself. My husband tied it on his own neck and draped it over Buzzy's bed post so he could slip it on himself in the morning!