“Hold me,” I’d say, reaching back for his hand. Or sometimes nothing. Just an unspoken open palm as we approached a street corner, preparing to cross. He always took it. He never fought it, never tried to break away or assert his premature independence. He held me.

He is almost 10 now. He rarely, if ever, needs to be guided or supervised across streets and parking lots. More often than not, he looks both ways without reminder, makes cautious choices before stepping off curbs. But the instinct is still there for me sometimes — on a broad crosswalk or in unfamiliar cities — to reach my hand out wordlessly and hope that he will just instinctively grab hold.

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