Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Fifteen years we have journeyed through this life together, you and I. Six more, I realize, than I have been married to your step-father, and seven more than I was ever married to your dad. You and I have lived a long-haul together. By the time I see you off into adulthood, you will be almost as old as I was when I saw you enter the world.
For fifteen years, you have told me "No," beginning with kicks and arched-back howls, and progressing through to headlong dashes away from constraining hands. You have run onto rooftops forbidden you to climb and refused to like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Still, you ask me what you should eat for breakfast and, when I make five suggestions, you smile at me.
"Ucky," you say.
Yesterday, you turned fifteen and you went to get an allergy shot after school. You returned home and sat down to complete Physics, English, History and French. By the time it was dinner, you still weren't done but came down to eat anyway. I had forgotten to ask you what you wanted and made an ordinary soup, which you didn't touch. We sang "Happy birthday" to you in French and brought you a slice of left-over cake from your party.
"Do you have any homework left to do?," I asked.
"A chapter of Of Mice and Men and a bunch of questions. I don't want to do it," you said, quite reasonably. " I've been working for hours. And it's my birthday."
I said you had to, though, and off you went, without so much as a stomp of your foot. At 8 PM you emerged again, done, to find that I needed to go to bed soon, my tooth pain having gotten worse. By 9 PM, you were left downstairs with your step-dad and a go-ahead to watch Myth Busters on the couch. Happy birthday.
I don't worry about you anymore. Watching you stand among your friends, you look like a healthy tree–like something solid, something that the wind won't knock down. You aren't a sapling anymore, whipped here and there by gales, its trunk about to snap. The world pours on hours of homework and you do them. The world gives you raised, aching, itching allergy shot bumps for your birthday and you say, "Well, OK." You are growing up.
Because you have said "No" to me so many times, for so many years, so much more than my other children, perhaps there is not so much left to push against anymore. You have already built yourself a self. You don't have to spend your teenage years kicking at me with steel-toed boots to get the freedom you have been winning, day by day, since you were born. You are your own man, a young man influenced by his mother, a growing man who knows his own mind.
Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License