“I think you have the most productive form of A.D.D.,” he says, giving me his cutest look – the one that worked when he was a child, and still does. I feign a pout as he and his friend laugh.
“Don’t forget about the sandwiches on the table,” I add.
“That’s four times,” he says. And the two boys chuckle again.
I had just run through the list of chores for him to do. Apparently I’d done so several times, along with mentioning the sandwiches. As for the tasks yet to be addressed, I was p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y specific. My kid stares at me, then rolls his eyes.
“What? What’s the problem?” I say, impatiently.
“Could I get the non-eight-year old version?”
Ever notice how many behaviors there are to tweak as kids mature?
“Fine,” I say.
I proceed to repeat my exact words, at twice the speed, and peppered with enough expletives to cause a sailor to put out to sea. He and his friend double over in laughter. Presumably I’ve obliterated the brief memory of the PG version. And the bonus? Suddenly, my otherwise irritating list is more manageable, and more age-appropriate.
I know my son isn’t eight, or twelve, or even fifteen. He’s the kid whose developmental changes seem to happen over night, and always have. A few weeks ago, in addition to tending to his routine responsibilities and then some – he slept what seemed like hours more than usual. Giving him the once over a few days later, it was clear he had grown. I marched him over to the wall where we’ve charted growth for years with those imperfect little pencil marks. Scratching into the worn white paint, I announced to my “little one” that he had just passed his brother.
As for moi, dutifully putting the flourishing touches on (what I hope is) the last of financial forms for college apps, I am convinced I’ll be shorter when everything my son needs in the next months is completed.
Despite a glitch over the weekend from which he bounced back pretty quickly, the kid is in a fairly pleasant mood after being in a foul state for some time. Of course, I doubt it will last and I can’t say I blame him; his application and portfolio burden was unrelenting, and his stress has eased only slightly as midterms hit (today), along with tennis practice and matches daily, and more exams to come.
Add the waiting game to hear from schools (another month to pace and fret), all manner of papers and projects, and what remains of senior year is a mixed bag. But one thing I know for certain. I need to take more distance, allowing my son the space to continue growing into his sense of self. His autonomy.
Last weekend, he ended up going out – the worrisome wandering from one gathering to another, eventually returning here with a friend in tow for the night. I had resolved to do better and I have – not requiring a homing device on his ankle or a text message to know his whereabouts. He had a key. He was with kids I know. I left him alone.
As for repeating myself?
I’m bound to continue, though he is trying to break me of the habit – generally with humor. So I’m determined to remind myself (twice if necessary) that he’s growing up. That this is a natural progression. That I will have given him the most vital life skills he needs, whether I realize it or not.
He will be ready. He will be fine.
And I say again, to myself: He will be ready. He will be fine.
© D A Wolf