Friday, March 12, 2010

My Non Winning Erma Column

Giving birth to my first son, the doctor had to induce labor. I suppose I never really wanted to give him up or share him with the world from the start. After delivery, the nurse asked, “Do you want to cut the cord?” and I gave an emphatic “NO!” I felt the sad at the deliberate disconnect nature required. When he was six months, I didn’t like surrendering nursing, but his teeth settled the matter. Mommy could not abide being a chew toy.

Toilet training was a protracted affair with me feeling positively reckless the first time we got in a car and didn’t bring a change of clothes for the lad. His first day of school, he bounced happily in line. I stood taking his picture and blinking back shock at the very idea that these strangers were going to take my son away for a whole seven hours five days a week!

Parenting is largely the adult induced illusion of being control, reinforced by the child’s belief that adults control everything. Only reality in the form of suffering, like broken bones, 0-12 soccer seasons and failed quizzes intruded on that blissful notion that I could do much to incubate his life other than just be there. Over the years, I’ve come to terms with my son’s willingness to grow up. I let him read books not preapproved. (I read it after the fact, so he knows I’m paying attention). I let him cut his own food (with a butter knife). But letting a teen drive or go out feels like holding a newborn’s beautifully soft head for that first time. It is those untested moments that define the limits of a mother son relationship.

Thus, when my oldest announced he’d been asked to a dance, I felt the attempt by my firstborn to declare autonomy. My son had been stalked by a female. Who was she? What was she like? What did she look like? I worried. If she was too attractive, would she lure my son into situations for which he and I were not ready? If she was not attractive enough; why weren’t the beautiful women pursuing my son? What was wrong with these ladies? They hadn’t gone on the date yet and already I’d morphed into the mother-in-law from hell.

Fortunately, my teen and I are still friends on Facebook so I clicked his page and there she was; chatting up my son about Pok√©mon and how she’d loved it since 2nd grade. Pleased and as appeased as the Goddess Hera, I smiled benignly at their innocent discussions of childhood. “She’ll make a lovely daughter-in-law.” I cooed and emailed her, “Be my friend?”

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