It's amazing how much talk can be packed into a seven-minute drive when something needs to be said.
Last night I drove my boy off on another adventure. Not camping with the Scouts this time, but participating in a robotics competition someplace about a hundred miles from here. He spent the night at his robotics club leader's house so they could get an early start in the morning.
Before we left, the seminarian said goodbye and asked him if there was anything I'd neglected to lecture him about. No, James said, "she's pretty thorough." We went over the location of the spending money, the phone, the key, the team t-shirt...
As always, I started crying a little bit as we left the house. "Why do you always start bawling, Mom?" he asked. He was very polite, but I know it's annoying. We talked about how hard it is for parents to watch their kids grow up and start doing things separate from the family. He speculated that he'd understand one day, when he is a parent, and I told him that he might not because typically it's the mom who has the harder time. Then I wondered how he felt about us not going along to watch the competition. We would like to see one, but it didn't work out for us to go this time. He said he didn't mind, and actually kind of liked it, being on his own with his friends.
But I was not quite satisfied. He had told me earlier that one of the families had driven up to the competition location the day before, staying in a hotel overnight to avoid the long drive in the morning. The whole family was going to watch the competition. I wondered if he felt neglected because we didn't do that. No, he said, he didn't. He said he likes having something that is his own. And he added that he likes the freedom. I didn't ask exactly what he felt free of. A crying mommie, for one thing.
I pulled into the driveway and he jumped out quickly. He grabbed his things out of the back seat, said "Love you Mom," slammed the car door and walked up to the house. I watched as he rang the bell and as his friend greeted him. They nodded in that way men have. He walked in the door, and then it was shut.
He never looked back.
I guess that's what we want, isn't it?