I'm breaking my vow of blog silence because I miss my son and I can't help it.
Grayson left for a father-son fishing trip into the hinterlands of Minnesota, to be followed by two weeks of hockey camp. My two "boys" are in hog heaven, and ok, I admit that I'm thoroughly enjoying a few days of solitude.
Just before he left, we sat on the couch, snapped some phone photos and talked about the summer. It's only mid-July, but it feels like it's almost over. After camp, there will be the inevitable Cramming of the Summer Reading and Other Assignments that somehow didn't get started done, the back to school shopping, and the final swimming parties with friends. Squeeze in a haircut, dates with his girlfriend and taking the driving test we didn't have time for, and that's pretty much it.
And as hard as I'm trying not to imagine an invisible clock ticking in my head, it's tough not to think about this being his second-to-last summer home. Grayson will be a junior this year. And then a senior. And then....I can't say the words because I have a lump in my throat.
I've always thought of him as my Gift. He stole my heart from the moment I laid eyes on him. I didn't mean to poke him with a diaper pin that time when he was a baby, but I somehow gave him an inch long scar from it on his belly. He says I scarred him for life.
I guess we're even then. Reserved and smart, Gray is one of those kids who is good at a lot of things. He can draw and paint better than me, he knows all about every kind of airplane (and flies them on his flight simulator), understands low pressure systems in the atmosphere, calculus equations and the hidden symbolism on LOST. He knows fishing lures and how to shoot a shotgun, knows how to tie knots and how to climb trees. He knows how to play hockey and golf, and he knows how to sleep in - even with the sun shining right onto his eyelids.
And he sure knows how to make me laugh.
Whether he is wrestling with me over a new tub of ice cream to be "First to Dig In" (a family tradition), showing me a dance move or delivering a clever line, I'm hopelessly entertained by him.
I've come to appreciate teenage humor's reliance on jokes about bodily functions because of him. A well-placed fart joke is about as funny as it comes when you're 16, and I'd be foolish to miss out on half the laughs in an effort to refine him into boring gentility before his time. Rest assured, I only snicker quietly, so as not to give complete endorsement.
I often think about how we used to stop the car to watch bulldozers and cranes at construction sites. And how exciting it was when we got stuck at railroad crossings and the conductor would acknowledge us with his train whistle. Life just didn't get much better than that. This was the kid who liked for me to sit for hours on end and simply watch him play. He loved my company and wanted me to be with him every moment of the day. He was stuck to my hip like a barnacle for the first four years of his life - and I thought he might never become independent of me. I worried for him.
But I shouldn't have. At 16, Gray is making decisions about his life that really make me proud. He is thinking about college and choosing a degree in aerospace engineering that will be a challenge, to say the least. He brought his Bible to hockey camp, a place not known for having a whole lot of religion, and says he hopes to have a chance to share his faith while he's there. Grayson is shouldering more responsibility at home, earning his own spending money from a summer job, and is a leader at school. He wears his retainer without being told.
I can see him working on mastering the attitudes that all teenagers struggle with: honor and respect, security and self-confidence, integrity and courage, maturity and faith. These are the years that the baton gets passed, and he has left the starting blocks and is sprinting with hand outstretched to grasp it. You really can't ask for anything more as a parent, and I am so grateful.
I was invited to go along on the fishing trip, but in the end I jumped at the chance to stay home and get some much-needed projects done. I don't really have the stomach for catching walleyes for days on end. And in my heart I know that his dad hears the ticking of that clock even louder than I do. Several days filled with rods and reels and guy humor is probably the best thing for both of them right about now.
So forgive me for getting sentimental like this, but it's one of those times that just kinda snuck up on me. When I looked at the photos of my boy and I on the couch, I just couldn't help it. Something wonderful is almost over, and even though I know that the future ahead is bright, it still feels sad. Darn it all!
Please pass me some tissues. I think I'm going to cry.