I've mentioned before my belief that my teenager is struggling within himself with growing up. He can't wait to reach certain ages, because of the freedoms he believes they will bring. He'll be able to get a tattoo! He'll be able to stay out as late as he wants! He won't have to do the dishes if he doesn't want to! (I strongly suspect that when he does move out, he'll never have to wash the dishes simply because he'll be using paper plates and plastic utensils; and will probably survive on ramen noodles and cereal. Wonder if he realizes that will mean one of two things will occur with a rather predictable frequency: he'll either be getting a lot of visits from mom, who will come bearing gifts of food; or he'll still be eating at our house?)
And yet, for all of his professed eagerness to grow up to do all those things I alternately say he can't or force him to do against his wishes, he still does things that he's done since he was little. Things like sitting rightnexttome on the sofa while we watch TV, or laying his head on my shoulder. Or batting those long eyelashes that frame his beautiful brown, green and gold lion's eyes at me while saying Mom, can you rub my back?
We've been in school for a couple of weeks now, and after much contemplation I think I've noticed a trend. As the school year progresses, and he gets more comfortable with his age and where he is in life at that time, he pulls further and further away from that child he once was. He gets closer to being that adult he's so eager to be. He spends less time with his head in my lap, and more time giving quick hugs and kisses as he breezes out the door. He starts putting in more thought and time in designing that first tattoo he plans on getting. And more time trying to convince me I should sign and let him get it before he turns 18.
But right now, for these first few weeks of school, he's still feeling unsure of himself. Insecure enough to still need the reassurance I can give him. And so I rub his back when he asks, and come give him a hug and quick kiss when I get home from work and he's in his room doing his homework. I "drag" him along with me when I go down the street to get gas, or to the grocery store; just to spend some time with him. And I wrap my arms around him when he sits rightnexttome, and I hold him close.
This time frame when he needs this from me gets shorter and shorter each year, and I know I don't have much of it left before he won't actively seek it out at all. He'll still need it, though. Which is why I will always have at least one night a week planned where I'm cooking his favorite foods, and he'll get to use real dishes.
I wonder if he'll ever realize that I need this as much as he does?