After Oldest Son left for Alaska, a friend’s 18-year-old son moved into his room while looking for a place to stay in Bozeman. So between him, Middle and Youngest Son, the house has been as lively as ever.
But then two weeks ago Middle and Youngest son left for their annual Minnesota trip with their dad to visit extended family, and our house guest left for a few weeks to visit his family. So the house has been quiet, like an exhalation. And while it takes me surprisingly little effort to adjust to quiet, I found myself missing the boys and their energy towards the end of their trip.
I discovered a scrap of paper during this time, where I’d scribbled notes to myself three years ago. Still new to parenting teenage boys at the time, I’d been feeling disconnected from them, and had brainstormed some ideas for re-connecting with my increasingly independent brood. Here’s what the list said:
Offer them rides
Downhill ski more to share their winter sport w/them
Stop by their rooms at bedtime; be open to talking or not talking
Get a phone to text with them
Ask them what they want to learn or know (cooking, finances, etc.) that I haven’t taught them
Catch up on family scrapbooks/albums
Resume special alone breakfasts at restaurants with each of them once a month or so
Plan long trips together annually
Stock serious amounts of food; keep cooking family dinners, invite their friends to eat w/us
Share more about what I’m doing, feeling, excited or not excited about
Re-reading it, it occurred to me how relevant the list still is, despite the fact that nothing on it that I was attempting back then succeeded in halting the march of time, and their growing up.
Anyway, the boys were due to arrive home today during my lunch break, after being cooped in the car for the past 20 hours. So I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and as I walked up our stairs, heard the boys before I saw them. Here are some snippets of what was said over the next 15 minutes:
“You got chocolate milk? Why did you buy this? We all hate chocolate milk.”
“I’m starving, have you made my lunch yet?”
“How old is this fruit?”
“When can you take me to the mall?”
“Have you seen (Youngest Son’s) nipples? His nipples are totally weird…Hey, come show Mom your nipples!”
“How late are you willing to pick me up if I go to a birthday party tonight?”
At one point, the two boys beating on each other, I told them if it didn’t stop they were going to be banished to the trampoline. That’s in the parenting books, right? Utilize Trampoline as Punishment Tool.
My other self-preservation mechanism is an out-of-body thing where I get very quiet. It’s like I’m watching a movie, observing the insanity of my Tasmanian devils and how they shoot sly remarks at each other so fast my brain struggles to keep up with their verbal ping pong, and then before I know it limbs are flying, slapping, tangled. The only thought that snaps me out is, “Oh my God, this is my life!”
At that point, I’m prone to yelling.
Turns out I have no problem adjusting to quiet, but my shoulders are up around my ears as my nervous system readjusts to life as usual around here.
END NOTE: Happy day and hallelujah! Apparently Middle Son was asking to go to the mall to sell his X-Box to a gaming store that buys used equipment. He bought the X-Box two years ago with his own money. Since then, we’ve been horrified by the time warp he gets sucked into while playing the thing, and exhausted ourselves as the X-Box police. Anyway, he decided on his own that he’s done with it. Just like that. I guess we get him back now. That’s good right? (See above.)