Out into the world. That is where I watched my son drive. The goings and comings of our only child has become something of a routine in the last couple years. As has been documented here numerous times, the reality of an empty nest is this: It doesn't stay empty for long. Here for Thanksgiving. Gone again. Until Christmas. Then he'll be in and out over the course of those two weeks, taking his meals here for the most part and making a point to connect with his mother and father in all the ways he used to.
And that will be fine, since my wife described to me the joy she feels watching her little boy heading out to face his world. On his terms. The terms that we helped shape, but the terms he faces the universe with every day. Sometimes those views skew to the left or right of the ones we thought we knew, but that's why we keep scheduling these rendezvous. As a parent, it is fun to watch how becoming a grownup suits him. At times it's a jacket that's too tight in the shoulders and too long in the sleeves. Other times, it's a sweatshirt that he's had for years that fits just right.
And he's still growing.
When I feel like there's a place to put a fatherly bit of wisdom, I might take him aside, or whisper in his ear. I know that he hears me, but not always right away. It's usually after the fact. I know that he has a number of different voices, my own, his mother, his friends, his teachers, and all those folks on Al Gore's Internet that have so much to say. He's a great big sponge, and there is still plenty of storage in that squishy mass. This is a guy who has replaced his brakes and now the exhaust on his car and I can only stare and wonder. How did that get into his head? I didn't put it there. His mother was born in Detroit, maybe there's some kind of automotive osmosis at work there.
Or maybe he's been talking to other people. Listening to other people. Learning from other people. And now it's my turn. Not to teach, but to learn. This year when we put up the lights in anticipation of the next holiday return, he had a whole bunch of great suggestions and the front of our house is now dazzling. I can't wait for him to come back and I get another chance to learn from him.