This weekend I had a great day with my son, or The Boy as we affectionately call him (he wouldn’t want me to publish the other name we call him). Since my kids are so far apart in age, my son and I were used to having lots of time together in the early years and as a result, I believe that we are very close. After my daughter was born our time alone together was much less frequent, but by then he had ventured out into the world of school, playdates and sports activities to take his attention away from home and me. And as he got older, the outside world drew his attention even more. Now we are in the teen years and he is starting to have more of a social life with parties, movies with friends and of course texting all the time. Still, I am pleased to see that even though he enjoys spending time with friends, he also enjoys being with his family too.
It is a strange thing, being a parent of a teen; I learn something new everyday. I give him space to grow and develop into the unique person God designed him to be, yet keep him close to me both physically and emotionally, all too aware that time flies and soon he will be off on his own. I have 5 years left with him at home and I cherish that time. Our days after school are either filled with homework or activities and on the weekends we are all together as a family.
Sometimes The Boy and Dad take in a sporting event or do some other “manly” thing and that’s good for both of them. Sometimes I will find a play or exhibit that is only appropriate for older kids and we will do that together. And I have read all the Harry Potter books aloud to him and we’ve gone to all the movies together (I am sad that is over), but I am finding that time together alone with him is even harder these days. Girly is mostly around and can be quite demanding of my attention and body, so my son rarely has me to himself. Sometimes in the evenings, if he is done with his homework, and after Girly goes to bed and if my husband is out of town, he will come lie on my bed and talk or we will read together side by side, and that’s nice. It’s nice that he still enjoys being with me as much as I enjoy being with him.
This weekend was a rare opportunity to actually spend an entire day together; my husband was out of town and Girly had a birthday party/sleepover. At first I looked up a movie for us to see, but there wasn’t anything appropriate playing . And then we looked at the High Museum, but we had already seen the latest exhibit. Finally we settled on a traveling exhibit called Dialogue in the Dark. It was perfect because it was something that I couldn’t have brought Girly along to do and it was an active experience that we could share. The exhibit, or rather participatory experience, was great and if comes to your area you should really check it out. I can’t tell you much about it because it will ruin the experience for you, but it is appropriate for kids over the age of 10 and definitely a great thing for adults to do without kids. We are still talking about that experience!
After Dialogue in the Dark we headed off to lunch and had both a great meal (lobster burgers) and great conversation. It was nice to have a more mature conversation and listen to what was going on in his life in a relaxed and focused way. Leaving lunch we noticed that it was an absolutely gorgeous day in Atlanta, so after we got home we parked the car and walked down to the local park. We just talked about nothing and everything while he lazily dribbled his basketball. At the park he shot around the basketball court while I sunned myself on bench and watched him. I wasn’t in a hurry and neither was he. Just being at the park without two other people along to get bored or hungry or hot or something was a luxury in itself. We just enjoyed – no reveled – in our day.
Later back at home, he had some homework to do and I surfed around on the computer, but it was nice, and he noted, quiet. He said it liked the quiet. Girly is always talking and Dad has music or the television on when he is at home, so it is never quiet with them around. The Boy and I, we like quiet sometimes. When it got late I retreated to bed to read a bit and he joined me where he fell asleep and slept all night.
And today, on Monday, on his way out the door to school, he gave me a big long hug and remarked on what a great time we had together and told me that he loved me.
My daughter’s teacher, a woman who has been teaching for 41 years and who has grown children and grandchildren gave this advice: ” When you are raising your kids, you don’t think about how you want your relationship to be with them as adults. Please do. It is so nice when you enjoy your grown children as much as I do.”
I think I am off to a good start.
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