He came home last night from his very first track meet.
I was in the bedroom when he walked through the front door. I heard him immediately ask his sister, “Where's mom? Where's mom??” A wave of anxiety washed over me as I wondered what I had done wrong this time. Did he come in last, stumble and fall during the race, get lost on the way home? Given our conversation the day before, I knew that any of one those scenarios would be blamed on me.
I walked into the living room, and there he was, his face flushed with excitement, holding two new library books in his hand that he needed for his research paper.
He waved them up at me. “I went to the library and got these.” “The library at Civic Center?” I asked, confused. We had talked about him going there after his race, but he had never been to the main library in the city before, and I hadn't had a chance to give him directions.
“Yeah, I went after track. It was easy. I just asked someone on the street for directions. That place is huge! It’s really nice.” Stunned, I listened to him. He seemed happy. Normal. Himself.
“Well, how was the track meet?” I asked tentatively. I was both nervous and excited.
He started gushing, telling me every detail of his afternoon, from leaving school, leading his teammates to the right place when they got lost along the way, warming up, and how he almost came in third until another kid whizzed passed him out of nowhere. Fourth place for his very first race, and third place of all the kids on his team. He was proud. I was ecstatic.
He continued, telling me about the races that took place before his; how one kid stumbled and lost the lead, and another dropped his baton during the relay handoff. He told me that despite these mishaps, no one made the runners feel bad. He said people were cheering, and it was exciting.
He kept talking, about his nervousness right before his race, his journey afterwards to the library, and how fun it was to have an “adventure” that day. He mentioned that word more than once, “Adventure.”
All of a sudden, he was my kid again. Gone was the sour, irritable teenager of yesterday. In his place was my son, who I had know every day for the last thirteen years.
I couldn't resist, I hugged him a few times. Told him how proud I was. Happy.
My son is back. The one I understand. The one who wants to be around me, wants me to know about everything going on in his life. I know he might not walk through the door tomorrow, but I’ll spend as much time with him as I can, today.