At the completely mature age of three, Eren decided that he was finally ready to be independent. With his chest puffed out and his arms held high, he climbed on top of the dining table and shouted, "I'm moving out!"
His mother, Carla, who had been busily chopping onions for the vegetable stew they would be having that evening, immediately stopped what she was doing and ran over to her son. "Eren!" she chided sternly. "It's dangerous to climb like that! You could get hurt!" She promptly picked him up and set him down onto his feet.
Eren, however, was as defiant as ever. Stomping his foot, he proceeded to yell, "Mommy, I'm all grown up now! I can live all by myself!"
The scenario was all too precious for the boy's mother. Eren must have been at that age now where he thought he was absolutely invincible, where he could do everything and anything, just because he didn't need to wear diaper cloths anymore. He was a big boy now, and he had standards.
"All by yourself, Eren?" Carla repeated pensively. "That means that you wouldn't be living here anymore. You wouldn't be living with mommy and daddy. Is that what you want?"
Jumping out of excitement, Eren stated, "Yes! I want to live all by myself! No one with me, because I am big now!"
"What would you do all by yourself, Eren?" his mother wondered. "Wouldn't you be lonely?"
"I would not be lonely! I am big, and big boys don't get lonely!" That was only part of Eren's logical response. He continued on by saying, "All by myself, I can stay awake without having a bedtime! I can play outside all day, and I won't ever take a bath again!"
Carla hummed, trying to appear calm, while also thinking of a way to show Eren that living on his own wouldn't be as wonderful as he had made it sound. Sure, you had the freedom of doing what you wanted to do, whenever you wanted to do it, but at what cost?
Tucking her dress behind her knees as she bent down to her son's height, Carla smiled warmly, and said, "You know, Eren, big boys that want to live on their own don't suck on their thumbs anymore."
Eren must have taken offense to that. "I stopped sucking!" he cried. "I don't suck on my thumb anymore! Only babies do that, and I'm big now!"
His mother nodded. Oh, that's right. How could she have forgotten that her son had stopped sucking on his thumb? But wait. Didn't she see that very famous finger hanging in his mouth just under an hour ago? How odd...
"You know what else big boys that want to live on their own don't do?" she questioned.
Seemingly intrigued, Eren looked up at his mother with curiosity. "What is that, mommy?" he asked.
Still smiling, Carla rested one of her hand's on top of Eren's head. She ruffled his hair affectionately. It was already getting long again. She'd have to cut it soon.
"Big boys don't get to listen to bedtime stories anymore."
"...What?" Eren wasn't so sure he liked the sound of that. "Is that true?"
Removing her hand from Eren's head, as well as standing up right once more, Carla nodded, and said, "It's very true. Bedtime stories are a no-no for big boys, especially big boys that want to live on their own."
Eren began to fidget. He thought that living all by yourself had meant no rules at all. Apparently, he was wrong.
"Does that mean," he began, trying to formulate his worries into words. "Do big boys still get to have hugs from their mommies? Even if they live on their own?"
His mother fit her hands into her hips and shook her head purposely. "Nope, nope," she spoke intelligently. She was the expert on this subject, clearly. "Big boys that are living on their own most certainly do not get hugs from their mommies."
"...Not even one?"
She shook her head again. "Not a single hug."
Suddenly, the tea kettle that Carla had been warming up began to whistle. Fixing her apron and patting it clean, she quickly made her way back to the kitchen, allowing Eren some time to think this whole "being a big boy" thing over. Now that he had the chance to reflect on the pros and cons of such a lifestyle, he wasn't so sure that he liked it anymore. And yet, he'd already decided that he was big...
As Carla was pouring the piping hot water into a mug, she felt something crash against her leg and hold on tight. At first, her initial reaction was to be shocked, but when she'd heard the sound of muffled sobs against the material of her dress, she knew she had no reason to fear.
"Eren, sweetie," she cooed maternally, "what's the matter, dear?"
In an effort to catch his breath, yet still speak his mind, her son burrowed his face further into her dress, and whimpered, "M-mommy, I-I don't know if I want to be a b-big boy anymore..."
Carla still kept most of her focus on the mug before her, as she asked, "And why not? I thought you wanted to live all by yourself, Eren. What's changed?"
It was obvious from his tortured cries that he couldn't verbally articulate what he was feeling. All he knew was that he desperately wanted some hugs and to stick his thumb into his mouth to help pacify himself.
Resting the kettle on the counter, Carla dried her hands off with a dish towel and eased herself back down to Eren's height. Without a word, it was with an effort that she scooped him into her arms and cradled him on her hip. He was getting heavier by the day, it seemed.
She carried him to their bedroom, taking her time as she laid him down on the aged mattress of the bed. He wasn't ready to let go of her, it seemed, for his hand was still firmly clasped within the folds of her dress. That was okay with her, she decided, as she laid down with him.
"You know, Eren," his mother spoke, having chosen to wait until Eren's tears had almost subsided before doing so, "it's okay to be a big boy, but only when you're truly ready to be one."
Understanding, Eren nodded against his mother's bosom. He'd always found such a place to be of great comfort to him.
Carla spent a few more minutes with her son, combing her fingers through his hair. She wanted to calm him down enough so that he could have his scheduled nap before dinnertime. Luckily, her soothing fingers were doing just the trick, for Eren's eyes began to droop.
"Alright, Eren," she said, speaking in a voice that was no above a whisper, "enjoy your nap."
Eren had been beyond tired, what with all of the excitement that had just taken place, but in the midst of his mother's leave, he found the strength to ask, "Mommy...?"
Turning at the doorpost, his mother looked at him tenderly, and responded, "Yes, dear?"
"Do big boys take naps, too?"
Hiding her chuckle behind her wrist, Carla nodded amusedly. Oh, if only Grisha had been home to witness this.
"Why, yes, Eren," she smiled, "big boys take naps, too."
Hi there! Chappy here! :D
Ahh, some family fluff to balance out the horrible angst that I posted about a week ago. Again, sorry about that. orz
However, I hope you've enjoyed this change of pace! I had lots of fun writing it. (:
Thank you very much for taking the time to read!