The Evolution of It All
April 14, 2008
My oldest child is 15, at the stage of life where much of his time is spent in his room brooding over the meaning of his existence-wondering how these strange people he calls his parents could have produced one such as him: normal.
It is with awe that I watch him change from boy to man, from child to adult-the change in interests, the difference in how he solves problems, relates to his siblings. I am proud.
This summer, he will be left over a thousand miles from us. We will drop him off and trust that the teachings and lectures and discipline we’ve offered over these 15 years have served their purpose. He will be with friends in the city.
As I think about that trip-the importance of it, the reality of it, the necessity of it for a boy on the threshold of manhood; I don’t think about the trouble he could get into. I don’t worry that he will make bad decisions. I don’t worry that he will be homesick. I know too well his level of responsibility, the dry wit that sees him through every situation with his own warped form of optimism.
Rather, I worry about how he will experience these friends he left behind two years ago. I think of the things they did at ages 12 and 13 and recognize that the gap from there to here is a big one. Friendships evolve as children evolve. As adult features push out from childlike faces, so too do the mannerisms and points of view of the adult emerge from the personality of the child.
And I suppose this is what I worry about as my son prepares to spend weeks away from me this summer. We talk a lot, he and I…about everything. And as he has grown, I have grown. And so, our relationship has evolved. But what about these friends he has not seen for years. Will they relate to one another in the same way? Of course not. Without being present in their lives, he has missed out on the evolution that has no doubt taken place within the workings of the group. And although I know this will not be a disappointment to him, I know he will, on some level, feel the strain of it and wonder if all childhood friendships end after one moves away. Perhaps he will mourn a little. Perhaps they will find new ground on which to build a friendship. Only time will tell.
As I think about my oldest child today, I think about the lessons he can teach me about my work; my writing. As much as I hate sitting with my hands on the keyboard some days, I know it must be done. Without the discipline, evolution in my work cannot occur. What I write today will never improve unless I work at it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.
And so, I’d better stop all this musing and get back to work…or I’ll stay a monkey forever.