So the kid has gone away to camp and I’m spending my day moping around the house like he’s moved out of home to go to university or worse. I’ve been into his bedroom three times, ostensibly to put things away, I’ve re-read the book he’s writing about Minecraft (that I only slightly comprehend- it requires specific MC knowledge), just to try and get a sense of what he might be doing at camp. What he might be feeling. What adventures he is having.
I said this morning, “Quick. Photo opportunity. Let me capture you in the Before.” Usually he would try to spirit away, ’til eventually being forced into a grimace for my lens.
Instead he got very still and said, “Yes, that’s probably a good idea, because I’ll probably come back changed.” I asked him how he would be changed. “I’m not sure, and you might not be able to see it in a photo, but I’ll know. I’ll probably be braver and stronger, you know, from the challenges, like, the giant swing, and stuff. I’ll have to face the fear to get the exhilaration.”
What a weird kid.
But he’s right, on every count. He can be a bit of a scaredy-cat with some things (like crazy rides). And then mature and brave beyond his years with others (insights, being independent and self-determined, patiently waiting in all of the reception rooms with his sister for years, patiently waiting for puberty…)
So we took some pics.
Now he’s gone and I’m sitting here in his bedroom that is so full of the empty, wondering how parents do this. How do they send their children off into the world, to uni, to share houses, to the world? Perhaps that’s what the teenage years are for, so they shit you so much that you can’t wait for them to leave.
Until they do leave. And then you are left with a bedroom that finally smells better, but is full of dusty drum kits, fading Hot Wheels posters that are curling at the corners, and memories. All of the memories. Of sprained ankles and chipped teeth, muddy footy boots and magic shows, home rock concerts and errant bits of Lego, solar powered creations and tennis rackets and spy books and iPods and too-loud music and shrieking clarinets and pounding drums and dirty-guitar feedback and sandy floors and grotty science experiments.
The noise and the mess and the exploration of childhood. The fun and the joy and the laughter and the boredom and the exasperation and the explanations and the boundaries to be set, and then tested, and tested again. The bedlam that fills your parental life and your heart so full that it might split it’s skin. Until they leave, and it all drains away in that very next heartbeat, and you are left with a room. Just a room after all.
This time, he will be back soon, before I even know it really, and I will take another photograph…this time.
We will examine that photo closely, he and I, heads bent together, short-sighted brown eyes squinting slightly, to see if we can see the markings of how he has changed. For he will have changed, a little or a lot, and I wonder what our eyes will see.
Do you have kids that are growing up too fast? Or not fast enough?
…From The Ashers xx