A few weeks ago our dinner conversation involved different stages of life—being born, starting school, being allowed to live on one’s own, and so on. Sonny and Ace seem to have glommed on to the same part of the discussion and perhaps even had a follow-up chat in their bunk beds later, because they both brought it up shortly afterward.
The next day Sonny plopped down on the couch next to me. In somewhat worried tones he got straight to his point: “Mom, is it true that when kids turn 18 they have to move out of their mom and dad’s house?”
“No,” I said. “They can, but they don’t have to. You won’t have to do that, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
He cheered visibly. “Good. That would be only 11 more years. I will probably live somewhere else when I go to college, but I will come back and visit on Sundays and Thursdays.”
I encouraged this, hoping to seal his promise of regular parental contact. “You’ll always be welcome in this house,” I told him. “Even after you move out.”
“And you’ll always be welcome in my house, too, when I get one,” he said. “You can come every Monday. Mondays will be ‘Chips and Dr Pepper Night.’”
Sounded good to me. “I’ll bring the Dr Pepper, and you can provide the chips,” I suggested.
He agreed, smiling because he won’t have to move out of this house in 11 years and because he can always return for a visit. Or maybe because he was blissfully anticipating a time when chips and Dr Pepper would be a regular part of his diet. But I choose to believe the former.
Roots: He’s growing them.
This child—the one who once was loath to let me out of his sight—is the same child who sprints ahead of me at church on Sunday mornings lest anyone think I’m walking him to Sunday school. And the same child who, when dropped off at Mimi and Papa’s house for a sleepover, allows only about five minutes before politely asking why I haven’t left yet—evidently my presence interferes with the occasion. And the same child who is counting the days until overnight summer camp, which he has been pining to attend since he was four years old.
Wings: He’s growing them, too.
The next day, Ace spoke up from the back seat on the way home from school: “Mom, I have to ask you something.”
“Do you have to move out of your mom and dad’s house when you turn 18?”
I warmed up for another tender conversation similar to the previous day’s.
“No,” I began. “You’ll always be welcome in our house.”
He paused. His brow furrowed in the rear-view mirror. “But if you want to move out when you’re 18, can you?”
Wings: Evidently he is growing some.
This is the same child who often, halfway through disembarking in the school drop-off line, often climbs back into the vehicle to give me a hug and say “I love you.” (Sorry for the hold-up, people behind us in the drop-off line.) And the same child who cannot be away for more than a day—even with J, Sonny, and me, and even when he is enjoying himself—without asking to return home. And the same child who loves old, and not yet old, family stories.
Roots: He has some already.
Sonny and Ace do almost everything differently, so it is no surprise that their roots and wings are taking different forms also. I’m just glad they are developing both, and I hope they never lose them.
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.” — “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran