The time has come to talk about the elephant in the room. Actually, the elephant isn't in the room right now, but that's kind of the point. The elephant will soon be leaving the room. That's really the issue. And it's not really an elephant we're talking about here. The subject in question doesn't have tusks or communicate in infrasonic tones too low for our hearing to detect, though that might explain some of the challenges that occur when teenagers get ready to leave home.
Oops. I gave up my metaphor there, didn't I? Yes, I'm writing about my son again. I'm going to keep writing about him because he is the most important work I have done on this planet. I am proud of the way I have cobbled together a life for myself and managed to find my own way to adulthood, but I had some pretty good help on the front end of that. I took the shove my parents gave me way back when along with all the wisdom and expert advice they had to spare and applied it to my own life journey. Here I am, getting ready to shove my own little birdie out of the nest, and I can only hope that I managed to impart a fraction of that knowledge to my own offspring. Sometimes I feel like a filter rather than a font of wisdom, straining to find meaningful lessons to impart to a young man who seems to have learned more than I will ever know.
How did that happen? I was going to be the one who carried him to the car at the end of a long day. I was the one who still listens to the story of every day's adventure, waiting to cap it off with some fatherly words that would bring it all into sharp focus. I held his hand when we crossed the street not just to keep him safe, but to remind each other that we were there for one another.
Now we need to find new ways to do that. Long distance, the phone company when there was just one phone company, assured us is the next best thing to being there. I have tried to soothe my wife's worries and calm myself with this idea. Our son is not moving away. He is expanding the home in which the three of us live. His room won't be down the hall anymore. It will be down the road a few miles. It will make those good night hugs and kisses a little harder to negotiate, but I expect that we will manage. There is a lot of love invested here already.
The love is not a doubt, but the rhythm of that love is going to be hard to replace. Waking him up at noon on a Saturday or six on a Monday will no longer be in my purvey. I won't be shouting at the back of the house to turn that racket off and go to bed, unless it is my wife's racket which may be the thing that makes this whole thing work. It will be quieter by a third, and I will miss that. I have already in the past few years, as his high school life full of activities and social events took him to new places and different schedules, over which I had little or no control.
I couldn't hold his hand as he crossed all those streets. Now I have to know that he knows to look both ways. I have to believe that he knows how to hear those low rumblings that only he can sense. It is his father calling. Be careful. Be kind. Be smart. Be clever. Be safe. Be where you need to be. Be gone for a while. Be missed.