I would love to tell you that I am completely aware of all aspects of my family's lives at any given point in the day. Or week. Or calendar year. The truth is, I tend to view the world closest to me in broad strokes. I have a son. I have a wife. I live in a house. The kind of house is not something I spend a lot of time thinking about, since a good chunk of that time I'm asleep inside of that house. It is shelter first and foremost, after all. This kind of utilitarian thinking sometimes, unfortunately, gets tossed on to the people in my life.
Sure, my son is a teenager. I am quite aware of that. I get some mileage out of this mathematical fact when it comes time to sigh or roll my eyes. I don't always remember just how amazing this is. I have, at least in part, raised a human being from a seedling to the strapping young man I see before me most every evening when I go home. To that place where I am not fully paying attention to in the first place. Becoming suddenly aware to the fur that sprouts from this boy's legs and chin gives me pause. Did I miss something? Did I have a Harry Chapin moment and forget to write a song about it? It's odd, because I tend to think of my son as a continuum. What he was when he was four is what he was when he was twelve. How he was when he was three is how he was when he was nine. The frame changes slightly, but most of the innards are still as they were when he came from the factory.
But that's selling him short. By a lot. The other night when I was late coming home from work and wanted help getting the frozen lasagna started, I called and asked him if he could help me out. "Sure dad," came the reply. I asked him if he knew how to -
and suddenly I stopped myself. I heard his response in my head before he could even begin: "Yes, dad. I can read. I can operate an oven. I put the clothes in the dryer for you just a couple days ago. It's not rocket science." Or words to that effect. Shame kept me from hearing the actual and appropriately sarcastic answer from his own fuzzy lips. My wife and I have been trying to generate one of these for the past seventeen years, and lo and behold, it seems to have worked. Sure, he forgets things around the edges, but I wonder now if that isn't just to keep me interested. If he was fully self-sufficient, I wouldn't have anything to fret about.
Unless I start fretting about how I now need my teenage son to help me make dinner and do the laundry. Oh, the humanity!