I am navigating new waters these days.
I know my son left for university several months ago, but due to unusual circumstances in my life, I was too preoccupied at first to feel the full impact. Or, maybe it’s just taken me this long to fully process and internalize the entire meaning of my empty nest.
Yes, I know a great many of my recent Smacks seem to be about my kid and his recent departure from our home. It’s what’s on my mind and in my heart these days.
Just like it took a long time to incorporate and become accustomed to having a new human to take care of and keep alive, I guess it may take a minute or two to grow into the new paradigm of having let him go. Knowing my offspring is out there in the world, navigating solo (for the most part), is still a fairly novel concept for me.
“before I delve into the heart of this essay, I want to state in no uncertain terms it was one of the best weekends ever”
As I wrote last week, I enabled and facilitated a quick Play Hooky From School trip with my 19-year-old son this month. If you didn’t catch last week’s Smack, I took him with me to New York City for a long weekend.
We are both fans of singer Andy Grammer, and he was playing in the city on a Friday night. Before you ask, No, we do not live in NYC. Not even close. Yes, it may have been fiscally irresponsible, not to mention parentally irresponsible to take him away for a few days in the middle of his spring semester. I missed him — terribly. That’s my explanation. And, for that matter, my excuse as well.
Okay, so I removed my son from his current natural habitat to share space and time with me. And before I delve into the heart of this essay, I want to state in no uncertain terms it was one of the best weekends ever. So that’s on the record.
But there is always a yin to go with the yang, isn’t there?
“there is a reason they physically leave our nest to go and experience this time of life on their own”
My kid is at an age where having him on trips is a huge value-add. He carries my bags and fetches me coffee from Starbucks in the morning. It’s nice to have someone on the journey who can go out in public and not give a hoot about what they look like. Oh wait, that’s me too.
That said, there is a reason they physically leave our nest to go and experience this time of life on their own. While going away to college is important from a higher-education perspective, it’s just as important for separation purposes too. Nineteen-year-olds take up a lot of space. I’m not even sure how else to say this. I mean it literally.
You know what else 19-year-old males do? I bet you’ll see this coming. They eat. A lot. Mass quantities. Constantly. The juxtaposition of my later-in-life diminished appetite and caloric need with his off-the-charts grub intake requirement is almost comical. An extraordinary amount of time was allocated to sourcing and consuming food — for him. It became a spectator sport for me.
As the days together unfolded, I became more and more aware of the “why” it’s healthy for our relationship that he is on a campus filled with other 18-,19-, 20- and 21-year-olds.
The Puppy Pile:
I couldn’t help but compare my experience to that of grabbing an adorable, fluffy puppy out of a huge litter. How can you not love playing with, petting, and smelling the yummy puppy breath? (Yes, puppy breath is a thing.)
But at some point that puppy has nipped you on the nose one too many times. At some point that puppy starts to whine because they miss their fellow puppies and that crazy pile-up. Somewhere during the visit, the puppy’s dependency on his chew toy (or, in my son’s case, smart phone) is too much to take. It is then, when you realize it’s time to return the puppy to its litter mates.
Sense of humor.
“There are times when a line may be crossed in the interest of integrity of the bit.”
Aidan and I have always enjoyed a similar theatrical sense of humor and our commitment to a comedy bit can seem a bit drastic to some. There are times when a line may be crossed in the interest of integrity of the bit. Neither of us take offense.
On this particular New York adventure we also went to see Hugh Jackman in The Music Man. It is a well known fact in my house that if Mr. Jackman ever came calling, I will leave skid marks on the driveway when I flee to be with him. My family will need to figure things out on their own.
So it came as no surprise to my son when I warned him, “Hope you’re going to be ok when I toss my panties on stage for Hugh”. To which he quickly retorted: “As long as you don’t mind if I do too.”
And there you have it – the bit was committed to. Fast forward to five minutes to curtain and I was quickly back tracking. Yes, I had the underwear in my purse but all of a sudden I got shy. Aidan was not having it, he was committed. “Really, all this way and we’re not making this happen?” he asked, incredulous.
We enlisted the help of the couple behind us. Quickly it became apparent to many of our fellow theater patrons what we were up to. And here’s the best part: Rather than scorn or dismissal, we garnered assistance, praise, and chuckles for our chutzpah.
Clearly, in the end, there was no real tossing of undergarments, as I felt certain that we would also be tossed — out of the theater. But it was a wonderful reminder of how much fun puppies can be.