Wings

Wheels, actually.

Now that my son has mastered the County Transit System (what you would think of as a city bus) to motor to and from school, he’s taking his show on the road.  He SET AN ALARM on a Saturday morning, showered, stuffed in some breakfast, and slushed off to the first bus stop.  He’s not sure where he’s going exactly, but he’s flying solo!  His general destination is a popular retail and dining hub across town.

He began his campaign a week or so ago, and while every ounce of my motherly being was parked at “no,” he made a compelling case for “yes.”  Before I knew it, it was less my husband and me deciding whether or not we’d “let” him, and more us merely going along with his plan.  I know for a fact I never actually uttered “yes.”

He’s a teenager. He’s supposed to pursue a life outside our home, and we are supposed to let him. But we live in the city, not the idyllic ‘burbs, and much as I hate to admit it, I worry about his safety. He’s a good kid, a bit of a naif for sure, but his intentions are pure, motivated by nothing more than wanting to explore on his terms, and maybe eat too much garbage fast food at one of the many options in the area.  Just prior to his departure, I ask how much money he’s got in his wallet.

T: “$170”

Me: “Oh, hell no.”

T: “Too much?”

Me: (in my head) Sweet baby jaysus god, you are gonna get rolled by some bad dude, or some store manager is gonna see a dorky-looking teenager with a a wad of cash sporting a string backpack, assume the worst of you, you’re going to be accused of then arrested for nothing of your own doing, good thing your dad and I are home today so we can retrieve you from the police station, you’re gonna drop cash on the floor as you fumble through your wallet trying to pay for something and then someone’s gonna lie in wait for you and jump you as you exit, and you probably don’t even have my cell phone number memorized anymore, how do you have this much cash and can I borrow a few bucks? and, and, and. . .

Me: (out loud) “Yeah, too much.  Dial it back by at least $100, maybe more, m’kay?”

And off he went.

The modern marvel of Apple iPhone’s Find Friends app offers relief.  I straight-up tell him I’m stalking/not stalking him, and he’s OK with it.  Not like he has a choice in that matter, but his whereabouts aren’t unknown to me, well, his phone’s whereabouts aren’t unknown to me anyway. I watch too many crime dramas and read too many mysteries featuring serial killers, so, duh, I know any would-be assailants would toss his phone. Before long though, he texted his first update: “Apparently Uncle Bob and Auntie Anne are heading south on 76th Street, and they saw me just as I was getting on the southbound bus.”

I don’t believe winged angels hover over our shoulders, but I do believe there are forces at play around us over which we have no control.  I swear I’ve periodically seen a reflection of light where there should be neither light nor reflection when I open our side door.  In my over-active imagination, our once-elderly, now-deceased next door neighbor Irene visits in what looks to be the form of an orange-tinted aura.  Yep, sounds insane, but that blob of light is something I saw with regularity, but can’t explain. Sorry, this should be an entirely separate blog post. Ahem.

The universe has its inexplicable plan, and sometimes it places you exactly where you are meant to be.  In this case, it’s placed my brother-in-law at that intersection, and made Bob pay mind to some long-haired kid at the bus shelter on a random Saturday.  Thank you, universe.

I’d gotten updates from the music store (ooooh, that six-string bass is kickass), the sporting goods store (nothing a little Seattle Seahawks stocking cap can’t cure–Seahawks, really?), food court (Rocky Rococo’s for lunch), and of course, Kopps Frozen Custard, a local institution of deliciousness, to cap it off. It would seem his day had progressed just as he thought it should, as I’d hoped it would be for him.

That doesn’t mean I’m at ease with his newfound wings–you never don’t worry.  Even when he texted saying he boarded a bus which changed its route after he hopped on, I was cool that it was probably gonna be OK.  He’s a modern-day Magellan with the benefit of a brainful of maps Rand-McNally themselves would envy.  And an iPhone.

Me?  I spent part of my afternoon shopping for my dog’s girlfriend’s birthday party.  My husband recalled Petco welcomes your leashed pet while you shop, so he thought it’d be grand to bring Caleb along.  This is my life, you guys. We can never go back.  I did however write a glowing review of our Petco experience via the online survey they sent.  Did anyone provide excellent service?  Yes, everyone who didn’t judge me when my dog peed on the merchandise was excellent.  Pro tip: don’t buy anything kept on the bottom shelves.

5 thoughts on “Wings

  1. We all hope to raise children as thoughtful and responsible as your son. You and Tom are killing the parenting game! You’ll never not worry, but it sounds like a very successful adventure in the city for your big kid.
    P.S. It’s always a good move to swing by Kopp’s custard. Such a smart boy!

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  2. Speaking as someone who was once a teenage boy — in the pre–Digital Age, no less — let me offer you an admittedly unsolicited piece of advice, Wendy: Resist the temptation — at least half the time it surfaces, anyway — to track his whereabouts via the iPhone. Think of it like a manager challenge in MLB: You can only invoke it so many times in the course of a single game, so choose wisely. This will, in the long run, make you both happier, because it will establish trust — trust that he can navigate the city streets without a digital chaperone. That’ll bolster both his confidence and yours.

    Adolescents need a private space all to themselves, outside the sphere of adults, to explore the world they inhabit, and that means giving them a little free range to do so. Digital tethers make it very easy these days to (unobtrusively) keep tabs on them, and I’m not suggesting they aren’t helpful tools, but trust that he’ll pick up the phone when and if he needs to. And I suspect he won’t: He’s gonna be just fine out there!

    And you’re right: No matter how practiced you both get at it, you’ll never be completely at ease with his being out on the streets by himself, so just learn to be at ease with not being at ease about that, if that makes any sense!

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    • Be at ease with not being at ease, you say? Words of wisdom from a once teenage boy (I love it!), but let’s see how this once-teenage girl manages in real life! Admittedly, I did check in periodically–not as often as I thought I might, but more than was strictly necessary, I know that. I am genuinely impressed with his desire for and pursuit of independence. I joke and say that the kid sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, yet can manage a full day itinerary while balancing an awesome GPA and extracurriculars. I will call upon your baseball manager analogy the next time he adventures out, Sean. That is a guarantee.

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  3. Pingback: Age of Innocence: On the Bygone Pleasure of Being City Kids

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