I’m not writing about people in order of how much I love them. If that was the case, then I wouldn’t write because I love my children the same. The scales don’t tip. They don’t exist. My children are not the same but I love them with the same passion.
The Boy, though. He is the one, ironically, to whom I feel the most kinship. I thought I would be [future] best friends with my daughter. But it’s the Boy with whom I am most comfortable. We are cut from the same fabric, along the same bias that stretches, puckers, and tears the same way. The fibers that I feel like are loose and warped in my tapestry are the same with him.
If there was ever a place that I fit, it’s when I am talking with him. Because he is so much like me, God bless him. God have mercy on him.
The Boy and I share similar strengths and similar flaws. Turn our patterns one way and the warp and weft of our cloth is beautiful with compassion and laced with kindness. We want to please….oh how badly we want others to smile. But, turn the cloth just a little the other way, and the lines of love are perverted into financial foolishness and emotional over-sensitivity. We are too damned sensitive.
The Boy is a complex spectrum of emotion, a beautiful Pollock of color and texture and hidden meanings. When we drive to school together, our conversations alternate from discussions of life and philosophy to betting for bragging rights over gas prices to horrible fights about something stupid. He is intensely private and will then open up about everything, asking questions, seeking acceptance, finding love.
I love my son. I love my beloved young man, my former Pumpkin Seed (he had horrible jaundice when he was an infant). I am fiercely protective of him because, in some way, I feel like I’m finding the old me and trying to guide her through adolescence and young adulthood. I am so careful with my son. I want him to be liberated from the emotional demons which have stirred me wrong so many times and, yet, I know that no matter how many loving, guiding words I might offer, he will eventually have to conquer them on his own terms.
The Boy is one month from 14, four months from graduating from middle school, and 8 months from hitting 9th grade. He is itching to learn to drive and continually suggests that he has at least one (new) girlfriend every couple of days. He is passionate about living and yet is happiest lying on the couch and doing nothing.
He is a contradiction. He is a blessing. He embraces growing up so long as he can go outside and play with Nerf guns. Continually, Pat talks about how the Boy needs to grow up, needs to shed these last few skins and exoskeletons of childhood and become a man. I don’t have the heart to tell Pat that he has his own toys; they just happen to have a bigger price tag.
The days grow longer daily and the Boy goes further and further from my side. Frequently, he’ll borrow my bike and disappear over the horizon that I can see to find his own world, to navigate out of mine and into his. The borders that tied us are frayed and I watch him stepping farther and farther away from my hand that I want to stretch out and grab his collar and pull him back.
I swear, one of my ribs has a dent in it from when the Boy used to use it as a footrest when I was pregnant with him. I still remember how he loved to be perched on my shoulder when he was an infant, the sound of his first laugh, the curl of his smile. I remember his “froggy dance” and calling me “Mama.” I remember the first time he said “oh shit” while playing with his cars because he was mimicking me even though I swore that Pat and his foul mouth would be the one to corrupt our perfect child.
Oh Boy, my darling Boy, it’s hard enough to see your sister grow up. Somehow, though, you are my better half because we are so very much similar. No matter how often we fight and you scream horrible things at me that I just won’t allow to scratch or mar the emotional surface of my skin, you are still my beloved Little Man, the Big Guy as your father used to call you.
I feel like I should miss you. Instead, I shall treasure these moments and watch your shadow grow a little longer every day. You might be taller than me, but I’ll always be your mother…just a short mother.
That’s okay. From my height, I can still pop your bottom if you talk back…or if I want to start another poking war.