I know this will sound odd: but one of the things I found humorous to watch when my sons were infants was them crying with total abandonment. It made me laugh to see how seriously they took their own discomfort whether it be hunger, soiled diapers, or exhaustion. I would think, “What? You don’t have to make the house payment, your home isn’t burning and food always seems to find it’s way over your tongue and into your stomach. What could possibly be so terrible for you? I would laugh and think, “I wish I had it so bad.”
It’s now 17 and 15 years later and just as of last week, I realized (no, not for the first time, but I hope for the last) how seriously I now need to take their discomforts. Last week at my sons’ school a young man went home after school and, a few hours later, he ended his life. I don’t know the particulars and I don’t need to know. What I know and imagine everyday is that a Mom will no longer hold, smell, touch or yell at her son. His Father will no longer imagine that son’s bright future; and two brothers will never have a chance to tease their brother while they toast him at a wedding. A young man, no different than my own, is forever gone. This young man is a soul I never met. Would I have liked him? Would he have made our family laugh as so many other boys running through this house have done? It really doesn’t matter. His passing is continually on my mind and he is continually teaching me as I deal with the quotidian details of parenting.
What worries my sons’ now worries me, more than ever. Tonight is a school night. We have a firm rule that there are no friends after school during the school week. Tonight, my son’s friend texted, saying he needed to talk because he was angry and everything was closing in on him. Tonight, I changed my rules. I picked the boy up and the two went riding. Tonight, I realized that all the rules have changed, that rigidity in parenting is no good in the teen years. Tonight, I wished that other boy had had a friend to call. Tonight, I was grateful that I made time to help an angry, tired boy; and, I know his parents have done and will do again the same for me. Tonight, we’ll eat dinner two hours later than usual…as a complete family.