We had a monumental occurrence at our home this week. What might that event be, you might ask? Did we win the lottery? No, not quite that monumental. Did my latest novel make the New York Times best-seller list? No, not quite that monumental either. Did I accidentally discover a cure for cancer while mixing up the directions in a recipe? Nope. But to Hubby and me, it was epic: YOUNGER SON ACTUALLY FINISHED THE JUICE IN THE CARTON AND . . . WAIT FOR IT . . . THREW THE CARTON IN THE TRASH!

Okay, I realize I’ve probably left some of you scratching your heads and saying, “Huh?” Let me clarify. From the time Younger Son was able to hunt and gather for himself from our pantry and refrigerator, he has never once thrown an empty package, box, bottle, or carton away. Not only that, but he usually leaves just enough in the package, box, bottle, or carton to make you think there are actually contents inside. I can’t count the number of times I’ve found nothing but crumbs in a cookie or chip package. I suppose, somewhere in Younger Son’s mind, if there are crumbs present, that means he did leave something for the rest of the family. He generously leaves half a teaspoon of juice in the bottom of the carton. This is only because Hubby admonishes him not to drink all the juice, so I suppose, technically, Younger Son can say he didn’t drink all the juice. If he actually threw the packages of crumbs or the carton with half a teaspoon of juice in the trash, someone might accuse him of eating or drinking all the goodies. We can’t have that, now can we? Poor Younger Son is maligned enough as it is simply by virtue of the fact he is a teenager living under our roof. Fortunately, over the years, I have learned to evaluate packages, boxes, and cartons before making a trip to the grocery store. I’ve been fooled more than once into thinking we had cookies, crackers, or other necessities because I saw a box on the shelf but failed to look inside. (And for the record, yes, cookies and crackers are necessities.)

Younger Son will also leave empty boxes in the freezer for things that only he eats, such as Hot Pockets or chicken biscuits. For some reason, we must continue to freeze these boxes that are taking up space in the freezer lest they thaw out in the trash. Younger Son also leaves wrappers and empty sports drink bottles everywhere, but those don’t count since I can tell they are empty.

Still, this sudden behavior change has me both thrilled and concerned. I didn’t think Younger Son even knew where the kitchen trash can was located. Or is this a rite of passage, meaning Younger Son is transitioning to a responsible adult who cleans up after himself? (Surely not.) What’s next? Picking up his clothes off the floor? Cleaning all his junk out of my car? Brushing his teeth? Changing his underwear? Making his bed? Emptying the dishwasher without being asked? Remembering to take his band music the night of the band concert?

My imagination cannot take a scenario like I’ve painted above without either exploding or wondering who snuck in and switched out my kid when I wasn’t looking. Part of me mourns the loss of my baby boy. The other part says not to make too much out of his depositing an empty juice carton in the trash. It was probably a one-time fluke that will never be repeated. I need not worry about Younger Son growing up too quickly into a responsible adult. His tennis shoes are still on the porch after being told at least a thousand times to bring them in the house.