Jeans with a hole in the knee – it is like a right of passage for boys. It recalls images of Huck Finn and fishing and just all manner of boy activities. And for some time, it was a style although there is nothing like the natural hole rather than one manufactured for style.

But as I looked down on my youngest son’s jeans with a hole worn in the knee I smiled. Not because of the tradition it represented. Not because I considered them ruined. But because they made me realize how far we had come.

A year earlier it would have been a long, hard struggle to get my youngest to wear jeans. He was adamant about comfort and found his only true comfort was in shorts. He fought any notion of long pants and when forced to wear something below his knee, anything other than loose fitting sweat pants was met with a tirade.

Benefits of this attitude toward long pants were that his math skills improved. We had an agreement – 60 degrees was the cutoff for shorts. He quickly became a master at math below 60, quickly calculating in his head how many degrees the thermometer would need to rise to reach shorts temperatures.

Then this past Fall something happened. He found that jeans could be comfortable. He found that jeans matched with just about anything, thus allowing him to avoid the “go find another shirt” time each morning. He embraced jeans and a big chunk of time and animosity was removed from our morning routines. It was amazing, and a relief. A true mark of his growth and maturity.

And so, looking over his jeans that he had worn a hole in, I smiled. How far we have come. Sure, he can stil wear them, in fact, I encourage it. They are a mark of pride for both of us. And although he still tracks the temps to see when he can wear shorts, for now, I know he is more whole with the hole.