Boys

May 1, 2013

I am a fifty year old woman. I am at an age when I should be gardening, or sorting thru cruise brochures, or joining a wine tasting class.

Instead, I am quite often surrounded by boys. Teenage boys. One of them is my son, who, like most 13 year olds, has begun to travel in packs of other thirteenish year olds. I spend a lot of time with the son of friend of mine, he’s on the cusp of 16, I think. He doesn’t look like a boy, anymore, but he is one. I am blessed that I get to see that side of him. I drive him places sometimes, and over time, and out of sheer boredom, I’ve gotten to know him.

Tonight, I was bringing this young friend of mine home from a class. He had his head stuffed between earbuds. He had a bag of Wendy’s on his lap. He had a scowl on his face and a french fry in his mouth.

A song came on the radio, and the ear buds came out. And he sang along. Not softly, not under his breath, out loud, each word clear, each note on key. He didn’t look at me; I didn’t look at him. I harmonized, or attempted it, during the choruses. I slid glances at his face, and saw his eyes were wide open inside the dark of the Grand Marquis. I still can’t believe he let me hear him sing. When the song was over, he stuffed the earbuds back in place. He popped a french fry in his mouth, he sighed and closed his eyes. Back in position we went. I drove the car, he went somewhere else in his head.

About a half an hour after I got home, my son came in from a basketball practice. He laid on the sofa, protesting he was too tired to make it up the stairs. His dad tried to wrestle with him, and he rolled over, closed his eyes. (What is it with boys and the shutting of eyelids. Is it some adolescent version of peekaboo?)

I waited for his father to go downstairs. I told him it was time for bed. “Don’t you want to hear about practice?” he asked. He didn’t sound hopeful. He didn’t sound mad. He wanted to know if I had the time to listen. I did.

He told me, little by little how his practice sucked. One kid announced to everyone he didn’t  want to pair up with him in a drill because my son was no good. Another kid swore at him for fouling him out. I don’t know exactly what went on, I don’t speak basketball. I just know that my son was squeezing tears out his eyes, and his lip trembled, and his shoulders shook. I know that he wouldn’t let me lay down next to him. We spoke face to face.

I said what I could. I told him how much I respected him for his drive, his determination. That the most I did sports wise growing up as a kid was join the swim team. I stayed on it until I was eleven, then quit when we moved and I found out I’d have to swim in a lake. Perseverance  has never been my middle name, hasn’t even been an occasional visitor in my life.

I don’t think I helped. I did get a smile when I reminded that body spray is never a substitute for a shower. I think he was smiling because he thinks I’m wrong and that body spray is even better than a shower.

Boys, these mysterious creatures that clutter and lift up my life. I watch them struggle, and I really want to make everything all better for them. And I can’t. I shouldn’t even attempt to.

I just need to make sure I’m around when their eyes are open and they want to talk.

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4 Responses to “Boys”

  1. Cindy Davis said

    Wow! Great piece. As the mother of 2 teenage boys (and part-time mother to a gaggle of their friends) I totally get it.

  2. can i share your blog with Mark?

    ________________________________________

  3. Julie,
    I grew up with four brothers. You did just fine, letting him be himself and sharing a bit of yourself.

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