Jackson doesn’t want me to write about him anymore. So that’s what I’m writing about. To tell you that he is off limits as of now. No explanation; he's drawn his line in the sand and there's no negotiation. Maybe the experience of walking into school after your mom has written about you in her column was too much. Maybe his friends and teammates didn't like it when they were mentioned either. So I can’t write about his growing pains anymore. His life is officially a no-go.
Which is a shame, in a way, because there is a ton of column material when you have a 12 year old. Like when he comes home and tells you that he wants to take a girl to the movies – it’s so clearly out of whack with my perception that they don’t talk that much in school. Makes me feel a little delusional. So, of course, being the complete reactionary parent that I am, I tell him, sure, he can absolutely go on a date with a girl -- when he is a freshman in high school.
I called Alpha to relay the conversation -- he was traveling at the time. “So, you are trying to tell me that he is asking to do something and you told him that he could do it in 2 ½ years?” he asked laughing, clearly oblivious to the fact that this stuff is really hard for me.
“Are you telling him everything he is feeling is natural?” a good friend asked me as I downed an espresso. “It’s very important to have the communication lines open.”
“Not exactly,” I admitted, mumbling under my breath, “I told him everything he is feeling isn’t age appropriate and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
Anyway, it’s a shame I can’t write about it. Writing is really therapy for me. My feelings come pouring out as I type – then I can address them. There are a lot of ambivalent feelings as a mom, to see your little guy become ridiculously big, all in a flash.
“Letting the boys walk around town, hope that is okay with you,” the text read last week. Deciding it was better to cut right to the chase and avoid long, involved exchange via texts, I called up the parent almost immediately. “Umm, actually, Jackson walking around town at 12 is really not okay with me,” I told him. “This was supposed to be a play date, right?” Wow, did that term suddenly sound crazy.
“Oh gosh, I already told them yes,” he explained. “Sorry, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.” Kind of a metaphor for where I am with Jackson: I say no, but it’s irrelevant, the train has already left the station. For the next two hours, I was in a complete state of panic. I imagined abduction, cars hitting them, homeless assaulting them.
“Hey Mom!” I got the call a couple hours later. “Just got back from Yogurtland, how are you?”
Not great Jackson, I wanted to say, but I bite my tongue. Because I know I am in a very bad place psychologically -- and he doesn’t need to know about it.
“Say yes as much as you can,” the same friend told me over coffee. “Because they need to hear that you are meeting them halfway.”
Great advice other than the fact that my mind, body and soul are screaming “NO!” right now. But it’s this kind of angst that I can’t write about anymore. I have to respect Jackson and let him feel like he's free, that his steps are not being chronicled by Santa Barbara. Such a shame.
“So, Jackson and I talked last night and he is going to ask this girl out. I told him to make sure she asks her parents as well, it’s all good. We’ll sit a few rows back, it’ll be fun,” Alpha told me last night. “I think he was really worried I’d say no.”
I put my CEO of the house voice on – I am totally in control. “Perfect. I agree. I think we have to be very careful to try and say yes when we can,” I lecture with confidence.
But once my husband looks deeply into my worried eyes, he sees my bluff. “It’s going to be okay Mara,” Alpha whispered to me. “We have raised an amazing kid.”
But I can’t write about it anymore.