He came rushing through the house, in and out in 10 minutes time, late for work. (The poor kid working on his birthday.) I wrote recently about the birthing classes that resulted in this boy. Something that seems so recent but was, apparently, quite some time ago. That boy turns 17 today.
Impressively, without a shower–and this is a kid who showers before and after just about everything–or much else, he scrambled himself together while I ironed his shirt. And then he was walking out the door: so handsome, taller than me, strong, driving away in shiny shoes, slacks and a (sort of) pressed shirt, bagel sandwich in hand.
And it’s so poignant, because this is sort of the essence of our relationship lately: he blasts through long enough to get something and/or have me do something for him, and then he’s gone. If time allows I may hound what are you doing with yourself? and where is it taking you? But oftentimes, unsatisfied with my sense of control or knowing, unaware if my guidance and knowledge are getting through to him, I’ll just resort to nagging and nitpicking about, say, his resource consumption: the too-many showers, the gas, the light left on after he’d zoomed away.
I know, it’s ridiculous, but it’s easy and direct territory: there’s a crisis and I expect my sons to model the solution. If nothing else, I’ll think, he should be taking care of the planet!
My mom, who’s been a nonsmoker now for probably for four times as long as she was a smoker, would often say “I just don’t understand why people smoke today with all we know about cigarettes!” And I find myself applying that same logic to eco-issues: why would you drive everywhere you go and shower twice a day knowing what we now know. And Henry–a master of the bus system until the day he got his driver’s license–gets to hear it too much and too often.
So today I offer this fine young man the following Birthday presence, a gift of a silent awareness. This wisdom comes again from The Sun magazine, this time from and interview with Michael Meade:
A culture falls apart when its sense of youthful imagination disappears at the same time that the wisdom of the elders is forgotten. Young people are growing up in a world of tragedy. They may appear to be ignoring it, but they are actually feeling it strongly … The world seems old and troubled now, and the young are no longer allowed to be as young as they should be.
Shit. You’re right, Mike.
And then, turning off of the page and speaking directly to me he continues:
You’re not supposed to be worrying about the end of the world as a teenager; you’re supposed to be bringing your dream to it.
Yes. Ok, I get it.
I love you, boy. Go!