My son is doing what he’s programmed to do and he’s doing it remarkably well. I’m not talking about the grace and power of his Grass dancing, nor am I referring to the Bronze Cross he earned this summer which puts him in line for Lifeguard training. I’m not talking about the four weeks he put in at Hardwood bike camp as an assistant counsellor, nor any of the other talents he has, such as playing the guitar or singing. It’s that that inexorable pulling away from me – he’s fifteen and slicing every thread that connects me to him.
Okay, so this isn’t news that a teenager turns away from his mom. In fact, what it brings to mind is the torture I must have wrought upon my own sweet mom. As the last of four children, I often felt that she was too tired to take much interest in my life as a teenager, but now I’m beginning to wonder if she wasn’t just smart enough not to indulge me, knowing that the slightest peak of interest would elicit only scorn. I’m just sayin’… you think it won’t happen to your sweet child. That your relationship is rock solid, that you have given everything for his happiness and he will always hold that close to his heart. NOT. You believe that because you were fair and generous regarding the child’s father, that you will never hear these words: “I’m on Dad’s side now.” Side? Sigh. So I open my hands and let him go. But I’m not ready! I cry silently. I only wanted him to have a relationship with his father, not to choose.
As I wipe my tears, my day timer comes into focus. Hmmm. Lunch with a friend, dinner with friends, conference, writing group, a reading in Uxbridge, a dance performance in Toronto, a day trip with a friend, Simcoe County Writers meeting… oh yes, and work (without having to schedule it around his schedule).
I blow my nose and look out around my beautiful property, the property he said he would never leave, the one I have been thinking about selling because it’s too much work and expense, and I sigh. It is so beautiful here. So quiet. So very quiet. Quiet enough to write. No distractions except for the crickets and the wind ruffling the drying leaves. No demands, except for the urgency of the ideas pulling at my hands to be written.
It will pass, everyone tells me. He’ll come back a man with full appreciation of all you’ve been and given. It will pass like the summer’s intense heat. And just as they were right about what happens when one’s baby becomes a teenager, they are likely right about this. As the door to his childhood closes so opens the door to his manhood… just a few snags on the doorframe tear bits of cloth and tissue on the way through.