Richard Carnes: It’s time to grow up
Vail, CO, Colorado
“Hey little man! What’s goin’ on? How are you doing?”
The phone filled with a long beat of silence.
“I’m, um … riding the chair up to the, um … glacier.”
“Cool! That must be really neat! It sounds like so much fun!”
An even longer beat.
“So … um … how are YOU doing today?” he asked with all the sincerity of a BP exec to a Gulf fisherman.
A part of me wanted to tear up and cry, but it was my 11-year-old fulfilling his daily obligation of calling Mom and Dad while on a two-week summer ski trip to Whistler, so I continued my exuberance for the duration. Dammit, he had only been gone a few days, yet Mom and I were really missing him.
Yes, they grow up and move on, just like his two older brothers have. But this was the first time he had ever left the state, much less the country, without at least one of us. How could he possibly survive without our daily guidance and constant positive-example setting, especially mine?
I suppose it’s time for us to grow up and accept that we are only a few years away from being true empty nesters (six, for those keeping count). It just bothers me that the older they become, the more and more “stuff” gets in the way of them simply being kids,. Although we’re the ones providing all the “stuff,” it just doesn’t seem right.
This is the same kid who just a scant three years ago, at the ripe age of 8, walked in the family room (waaaay after bedtime) during an episode of “Californication” and asked while pointing at the TV, “Are those real boobies?”
I had to fight the temptation (and Mom’s stabbing elbow) to explain the difference(s).
We accept the fact that growing up in Happy Valley does skew one’s view of the outside a bit, especially a budding sixth-grader who’s been fortunate enough to travel internationally more often than a Chevy full of illegals in Arizona. But we can’t help but wonder how he comes across to the other kids.
After all, he has no accent, does not understand what humidity is, and has a sense of direction based upon Denver east, Moab west, Mexico south and Canada north. To him, the interstate is Main Street, it’s perfectly normal to see snow in May, and he giggles at the idea of a foot of snow being a valid excuse to cancel school.
Not exactly normal for 99.999 percent of our planet’s inhabitants.
Anyway, he missed his first daily call last Thursday. Although on the tip of our collective tongues, we didn’t mention it on Friday, as promoting independence is a big part of our family constitution.
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” he said to conclude this one particular call.
“OK. Have a good day!”
“Oh … yeah … I love you. Bye …”
The only click I heard was my 50-year-old heart missing a beat.