My son turned thirteen last month. Thirteen. You know, the age their eyes roll back into their heads and molten lava starts shooting out from every orifice.
So many, many things changed in an instant.
The day after he became a teenager, he announced at breakfast, “Mom, I need to do some chores because I need some money. And I think I want to go to the school dance next week. Oh, and I gotta go take a shower now.”
Whoa, whoa whoa — stop right there. Dance? Money? Okay, okay. I can handle that. But voluntary hygiene? You mean I won’t have to spend the better part of the morning begging you to scrape the putrid seven layer grime of raw sewage off your Sasquatch feet? Be still my beating heart! Think of all the free time I’ll have! My nose hairs might even grow back again! Oh joy! He willingly wants to take a shower! Maybe having a teen in the house won’t be so bad after all?
Oh, it be bad. Along with his newfound sense of cleanliness, all of a sudden my son thinks he’s capable of being by himself with no adult supervision.
Yesterday he called me on his little TracFone: “Hey, Mom,” he mumbled. Because mumbling is the only language teenage boys understand. “I’m gonna stay after school and hang out in the field with Cameron and some friends before soccer practice, okay?”
Hold up. You? In a field? With friends? Weren’t you the same boy who just THIS MORNING had to ask me for help because you couldn’t figure out how to open the car door? Suddenly you’re competent and responsible? Oh, no. Nope. That’s not how adulthood happens. You don’t pick Fruit Loops out of your belly button and eat them and then the next day hang out in a field with some possible psycho-killer named Cameron. Sounds like a made-up name to me. But my son wants me to believe he’s “mature” now. I’m not sure I’m buying it.
“Don’t worry. I’ll call you if I need anything,” mumbled my 13-year-old son.
Call me? You don’t even know how to dial numbers! Do you even know any numbers?
“Okay, call me,” I sighed. “Please. Please for anything. Anything at-”
He hung up.
I suppose I should be happy because that was the longest conversation we’ve had in months.
The next day, still riding high on soap fumes from his second shower of the day, I drove my teenager to his soccer game. About a mile away he suddenly mumbled with urgency, “Don’t drop me off at the field. Don’t get out of the car. Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me. Just drop me off in the parking lot. Wait, no — just slow down here and I’ll jump out.”
Right, because God forbid any of his buddies within a 150 mile radius get the slightest hint that I exist at all. Death in a ditch is more preferable.
This coming from a boy who not that long ago, if I were a mere millimeter outside his peripheral vision for a nanosecond all hell broke loose.
“Okay, mommy’s just going to step over here to get your baba…”
I pulled up to the soccer field still a bit stung by my beloved son’s dogged determination to pretend I’m not alive. I leaned over and said, “Tell you what. First thing tomorrow I’m going to buy a wig, dark sunglasses and a fake mustache. Then I’m going to steal the Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter, you know, just in case my wig falls off. Then I’ll buy tinted windows for the car in case the cloak falls off. If your friends are within earshot, I will only speak to you in sign language. Not a sign language that anyone can understand but a made-up language only you and I know. If there’s a slight chance one of your friends cracks the code, I’ll communicate to you only with my eyes and mental telepathy. But I won’t look directly at you. I won’t make eye contact. I’ll look a little off to the side. If I’m breathing too much or too loud while we’re communicating telepathically, I’ll hold my breath until I pass out. Okay?”
“Okay,” my son shrugged and he was gone, leaving me in a cloud of Axe shampoo.
Which was good because now I have loads of free time to search for invisibility cloaks on eBay.