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1:42 p.m. - 2013-04-24
The Winds of Time on My Cheek

Gracious, where does the time go? Not that it's been so long since I posted here, but as in where the heck did this year go? It's rolling up on the end of the school year already. Yesterday we filled out the forms and gave Wolf a check for his class trip. As usual the Class of 2015 opted for Six Flags. Of the local-ish theme parks (Hershey and Dorney being the other two) Six Flags Great Adventure is the easiest to get to with a couple of school buses full of shrieking teenagers. You'd think with the city so nearby and handy the kids would choose something to do in the Big Apple but when I suggested such to Wolf he looked at me like I was a crazy person. "Uh, Mom? There's no roller coasters in Manhattan." No, I guess there aren't. I have forgotten how to be 15. To me the idea of a Broadway show and a nice sit-down meal or a museum, street food and the Central Park Zoo sounds way more fun than dragging my butt around some tatty amusement park to stand in line for 45 minutes in the baking sun to ride a roller coaster for 90 seconds.

I got to thinking about this later on and while I am not terribly old to be a teenager's mother I am old enough to be far removed from Wolf's world. It's been 35 years since I was 15. I thought about those parents who pushed childbearing beyond any sane limits. Okay, fine. You got the science magic to give you a baby at 53 years old. Mazel tov. But having been there, done that at 21 and again at 34 I can tell you the idea of being a Cub Scout den mother at age 60 gives me the shivering willies. It's difficult enough for me to relate to Wolf's rabid enthusiasm for video games, 'Jackass'-style YouTubes, and the aforementioned roller coasters, imagine trying to listen to that prattle while you're figuring out your Medicare Part B payments! Trying to get jazzed about helping your daughter pick out a dress for the 8th grade dance when you're 20 years past being embarrassed to wear mom jeans.

Truly, it's not that I don't care about Wolf's stuff, it's just the fuming tumult of adolescence is a dim echo. On one hand it makes me patient and I have the perspective of the really long-view, I can sympathize and empathize with his confusion and fumbles and wickedly fierce feelings, but being so far down the road from where he is it's difficult sometimes to call up such passion of my own. I don't shrug him off and say, "You'll get over it." This is his journey and he's entitled to every bit of it. Just because I know what he's in tears about today will be the teeniest blip a week from now and 10, 15, 20 years from now it'll be entirely forgotten doesn't mean it's not a HUGE deal today. I guess it's that there's such a gap, so much space between us I sometimes feel a disconnect that's a little tough to bridge.

Mick has partnered up with a guy from work to bike ride with every other week. Mike G (gads, another Mike in my life!) is 49. 5 years older and at least 100lbs heavier my Mick was thrilled to kick Mike's butt during their ride last weekend. Not really my point here but I like to brag on my guy. Anyway, Mike G is from upstate, one of seven kids and definitely a guy from our mindset of '18 and out'. The Boomers and the Joneses grew up with the assumption we'd graduate high school and get gone from the family home. Maybe we'd take a summer or two with the folks if we went to college, but living with our parents into our 20s was unthinkable. At lunch after the bike ride Mike G talked about raising his five kids with the same mindset. His youngest two are still in high school but the elder three are graduated and gone. His elder kids have moved on. They live with roommates and/or lovers, one's in college and the other two are in the working world. Mike G mused about his younger ones and how they don't seem to feel the same impetus to leave the nest. I nodded and said I wondered the same thing about Wolf. Of course he's a special case, his Asperger's makes his transition into the world a bigger step, but even if he were Joe Average I know he wouldn't be thinking (and planning and dreaming) of that magic moment two years from now when he'll graduate, turn 18 and get gone. Not like we did.

As the age for giving birth has been shifted well beyond what we thought in the past, so too has the age of when it's time to leave home. I know it'll be bumpy. Mick left home at 20 and I left two days after my 18th birthday, neither of us have any idea of how it works when your technically 'adult' child still lives at home. The deal I set for Alex was that as long as he was in college he could stay here rent-free and eat at our table gratis during his winter and summer breaks, but after his freshman year of uni he had to work. He was expected to earn money over the summer (and during the school year) to earn all the extras. Tuition and dorm and meal plan were on us, but books and fun and his daily expenses were his responsibility. It seemed the fairest way I knew to walk the line between seeing to it he got a college education and yet still came away with the idea of having to make his own way in the world. Didn't dump him out the door the day he left high school yet didn't give him some kind of extended childhood that stretched into infinity. I think it worked out okay. Alex, of course, resents it and thinks I did him dirty, but what about his life doesn't he feel cheated out of and blame me for? All I know is that he has his sheepskin, owns property, and has the wherewithal to do for himself at 28. Rotten parenting that, helping the kid to be self-sufficient, educated, and reasonably employed before his 30th birthday. Goddamn, what a horror for him.

Wolf? I just don't know how it will go with Wolf. Mick says I spoil him and likely he's right, but the struggle my younger son has gone through to get where he is right now seems miracle enough. Wolf never asks for anything. I have to actively seek out what he might need. New jeans, lunch money, the fare for a class trip. In a few short months he'll be an upperclassman, a junior and attending a terrific trade program in the culinary arts. He'll learn everything from cooking to restaurant management. Business bookkeeping. Supply ordering. How to run a payroll and a dining floor. While he's doing that he'll still be attending his academic classes and being educated in the usual subjects. And still dealing with his autism and all the attendant difficulties. Rushing him out the door the day after he graduates high school isn't even on my radar. Should he want to and be able to go to the CIA he'll get the same deal his brother did. Though perhaps if they both be willing he'd board with Miss Steph during the week instead of trying to do the hour + commute from here or being entirely on his own in the dorms. (What say you, my darling friend? No answer needed now, but do think on having your own personal chef who'd also walk the dogs and help around the house. Win-win.)

To back up a little and see how time is going on right now...

Remember this?

A scant few weeks later and we have this...

To quote Ecclesiastes 3:1- 'For everything there is a season.' And time is whizzing past. ~LA

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