No photos to post, no real news to offer, just thought I’d write a little while the day was still fresh and the house quiet. My son is sleeping the heavy, deep morning sleep of a teenager, and since I haven’t really helped him much by way of shifting his internal clock, I feel a bit guilty. Letting him sleep, and not waking him is not really helping, but I know his growing body needs it. We’ll get back to a true early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine soon. Everything in its time.
Last night Elihu and I ventured out in the dark and rainy night to visit a restaurant in town where I knew two guitarists to be playing. Over and over again throughout the evening I would think to myself how lucky I was to have such a companion in my young son. I told myself to cherish these times, because it wouldn’t always be thus. And I told myself again that this was not really so much nurture showing itself as it was simply nature. Sure I’ve helped shape the person my son is becoming, but honestly, he’s had so much on board from the get-go. He is, as I like to describe him, a ‘fully loaded’ child. But last night felt different somehow. The conversation between us was thoughtful and interesting, full of insights and twists that I couldn’t have expected. Over and over again I wondered to myself if this was not an adult beside me. When had my child grown up so? It seemed almost as if I were in a dream… I do know that this occurs with all parents; at times they find themselves shaking their heads in wonder at the things their children notice, at the way in which they express themselves. But last night, somehow, I felt a shift. As my son offered his hand and introduced himself to people, as he thanked the bartender for his service, as he remarked on stylistic details – from the guitarists’ sound to the decorating choices of the restaurant – I kept wondering to myself if this really was a twelve year old boy before me. I enjoyed his company endlessly, and more than a few times last night I cautioned myself not to come to rely on it. Times will be changing soon, and the days of mom and son dates like this will not last forever.
This thought is something we two discuss. It’s not a private rumination of mine – even Elihu wonders how things will all sort themselves out as he becomes interested in girls and finds a life of his own. I tell him that he’ll distance himself from me, and he’ll find he wants private time; he won’t want to hang out with his mother. “I don’t think it’ll be like that” he answered as we drove down the winding, dark road. “I’ll always love you. And I’ll always want you around.” “I know sweetie. We’ll both always love each other, but there will come a time when you’ll have to separate from me. And then, after some time, you’ll come back. But you’ll have to leave. You’ll want to leave. Trust me.” He took it in, and seemed to agree. But for the moment, the two of us are inextricably bound to each other. I wouldn’t even have gone out last night to meet the musicians if Elihu hadn’t insisted. “You have to. You said you would, and so you have to. Not showing up would be unacceptable.” We’d been cozily nestled in at home, he at the tuba and me at the piano, bouncing our way through some simple old-timey tunes. Neither of us had even gotten out of our comfy clothes, neither of us was really of the mind to collect ourselves up and go out. But we did, because of him. And it was lovely.
It was still raining on the way home, and while we’d suspected that the local frog population was probably hunkering down for the long winter ahead, we were surprised to see a fair number of them leaping across the road. Toads, frogs, even snakes, almost always require a stop. If properly equipped with a five gallon bucket and lid, we’ll snatch up a couple dozen of ’em to marvel over at home, before we let them go outside our kitchen door. Last night Elihu was wearing his white oxford shirt, and we had no bucket. Still, it was too much to resist, and at the first sighting, I stopped the car and gave the directions: ten feet in front of the right side of the car…. Elihu raced out into the headlights, crouched down, paused – and cupped his hands on the prize. It was a plump toad who chirped in Elihu’s hands the whole way home. When we pulled in beside the house, we both paused to admire this lovely creature. His fingers, his legs, his – as we like to say – ‘love me’ eyes. We were beside ourselves with love for this little being. “He sounds almost like a bird, doesn’t he?” Elihu remarked, as the toad trilled his song. Then Elihu ran to the pond’s edge and gently placed the animal under the tall echinacea plant. I watched him as he held his tiny friend, hands open, waiting for the toad to leave on his own. He watched for a long time, there in the endless rain. Finally, the toad disappeared into the darkness, and Elihu ran up the steps to the shelter of the porch. My son was close, my heart was full.