So many things have changed. For instance, I no longer have to prove that he sprang from my loins before taking him out of school (Incidentally, stretch marks don't count). There is a teacher parking lot and a student parking lot, which just kind of blows my mind. He gets himself up, showered and fed and has made his own transportation arrangements.
But perhaps the most disconcerting thing, is the realization that he really can get along without me, and will do so at every opportunity. With relish.
My fourteen year old is spending the weekend with a friend's family in Florida. I saw him off at noon today and felt decidedly odd as I drove away without him next to me in the front seat. He fills that space so completely that when he's not there, his absence is as large as his presence.
This afternoon, as I went about my daily chores, I realized I was unconsciously listening for the sounds of his homecoming; a slammed door, the thump of his backpack hitting the floor, and finally, the ttthhhhhhhtchk of the refrigerator door opening.
As my first child, his presence once seemed weirdly novel. I remember the fear and bewilderment of his first day at home. I can recall looking at him and thinking that mere days ago, I had been childless. How could something so momentous occur so quickly? In the awkwardness and fumbling of his infancy, it seemed impossible that anything about him could become old hat.
But it has.
Not in a dreary, timeworn way, but in a comfortable, fundamental part of my life way.
And like the car, the house echoes with his absence.
He was annoyed with my preparations and precautions. When I picked him up from school, I pressed his insurance card into his hand and told him to put it in a safe place.
He rolled his eyes. "Mom...what do I need this for?"
I was exasperated with the question. It's not that hard to extrapolate why I wanted him to have his insurance card with him, nor was it an unreasonable measure to take, under the circumstances. They were going to be swimming, waveboarding, riding roller coasters and God knows what else. Besides....
"Dude, what happens if somebody cuts your vehicle off in traffic, you swerve into another lane, get broadsided by another car and then the vehicle overturns, trapping all of you inside."
"God Mom, like that's really gonna happen."
"Probably not. But I've told you a million times, my job is risk assessment and management. I'm supposed to expect the unexpected."
I got another eye roll.
"Besides, you could trip over your own feet walking down some steps and end up breaking your arm."
That gave him pause. His size 12 feet have given him grief before.
"Well that could happen." he conceded.
I know, right?