Friday, June 24, 2011

Speaking in Code

The other day I saw a boy. He was about 14 and skinny and lanky, wearing baggy (not saggy) jeans and sneakers that looked way too big, but probably fit, because young teen boys have ridiculously huge feet. He reminded me of my son, who used to be a lanky boy with ridiculous feet and is now a "man" at age almost 23.

And for a minute, my stomach lurched into my chest and my eyes filled with tears and I missed my boy so badly it hurt, physically hurt, because that boy is gone and I'll never see him again. He's a "man" now, which is as it should be. That's the natural order, right? We birth them, we raise them, they grown up and we celebrate the milestones of growing up. But as that probably smelly stranger boy walked past me, I went into mourning. A true grief for the loss of my boy, who is making his own way in the world now without any guidance or help from me, because he's headstrong and persistent and is making life choices that lead him down a different path than anything I would have ever chosen or imagined for him.

After the stranger boy walked by, I called my son. But he didn't answer. So I left him a message. He didn't call back.

The next day, I texted my son. But he didn't text back. I imagined him dead. I'm probably not supposed to say that out loud, but that's what happens when your kids grow up. You call them, you text them, and if they don't respond you assume they're dead. It's fucked up, but true. Or maybe it's just me.

So I texted him again today, and I said, "LET ME KNOW YOU'RE ALIVE," which is what I always text when he goes a day without responding to me.

And he responded with a text. It said, "DUH." That's code for "I'm alive mom, stop worrying. I'm fine. I love you and miss you very much."

Because that's what happens when your kids grow up. They speak in code.


Cat said...

What a great post. My boy is on his way out the door, and I have the same feelings sometime when I see a little blond headed boy or when I see pictures of him when he was a little blond headed boy.
He still responds to me in words, but he's only 19. I see the texts getting shorter and shorter as the years go by.

That Uncomfortable Itch said...

At nearly 18 mine is also on his way out and it's devastating. Trying to be cool about it, but damn it's rough. And the thinking they're in a ditch when they don't pick up the phone is, I believe, fully normal and well adjusted.

Grace said...

Well that's sad. I feel like I should call my mom now.

Joyce Zaro said...

Shana, I read your post to Bob, and we both laughed out loud and also got teary-eyed. You hit the nail on the head with this one! We have done and experienced the exact same thing. You can even feel the eye-rolling as they text the "DUH." :) So glad we are not alone! Joyce