Driving home from dinner with my son the other night, I heard myself say these words: "You may find this hard to believe, but I used to be fifteen once myself." It was an echo of a speech I have given to countless students at my elementary school, though I tend to change the age to fit the circumstances. I know how meaningless this feathery bit of wisdom is, yet I feel compelled to repeat it, as if every time I say it, it becomes more worthwhile.
My son's response? "I always pretty much imagined you hovering somewhere between the ages of thirty-five and fifty." Not a bad little piece of calculation on his part, both in fact and in tone.
What did I expect him to say? Maybe something about how much he appreciates the way I can get down and rap with him. Man to man. Perhaps he could have used the opportunity to open up to me about how he really values our relationship, and how great it is to have a dad that he can get down and rap with. Man to man. After further review, I guess what he did say was the most realistic response for which I could have hoped.
I'm not worried about getting along with my teenage son. On the contrary. I feel very comfortable with the ease of our daily interactions. I even feel alright about the moments when I have to assert my position in the parent/child dynamic. We don't have a lot of disagreements. When we do, it takes a few minutes to unravel. I listen to him. He listens to me. We make a plan to move ahead. It's not something I could have done when I was fifteen. When I was fifteen, I was a lot more disagreeable. How did I manage to raise such a level-headed kid?
Maybe it has more to do with the years between thirty-five and fifty than when I was fifteen. Congratulations to both of us on that.