Growing Up

The car windows are wide open. Jake turns down Jay-Z. “Dad? Last year when you took me to camp?” He turns toward me in the passenger seat.
Yeah? I reply.
“How times did you have to pull over?”
What do you mean?
“How times did you have to pull over??”
You mean for coffee?
“No, after you dropped me off at the Camp???”
…You mean pull over for gas? I close the windows to shield us from the summer heat.
“Just tell me.”
Okay. I had to pull over twice. Yep, I lost it. I was a mess.
“That’s what I thought.”
Does that embarrass you?
“Nope. Not at all. I actually love that about you.”
Then Jake reaches over turns up Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”

It is the stone cold silence that hits me first. A quiet in the house where I can hear a City Bus five blocks away or the giggling conversation of two lycra-dressed mothers on a power walk, happy to have a few minutes away from their families. As I listen, suddenly our home feels like a fish tank. My heart and head searching for the faint remembrance for that toy that may have rolled under the couch, or kid’s shoes strategically placed in the major causeway that always trip me up. I find myself yearning for that distant call for attention – “Hey Dad!”

Nothing. The nest is empty. Now, this nest, our home is just a wood frame filled with stuff, not the usual memory factory.  A factory filled with Jake and Lily laughter. A wonderful place filled with their unexpected observations. Case in point, Lily’s recent comment to Jake – “When you have your first kiss, I want to be there.” Lily had witnessed most of Jake’s important moments in our house and it seemed natural to her she wouldn’t miss his first kiss. Yes, her comment drew hearty laugh and encouraging smiles.

My boy is away for two weeks. Luckily, Lily is with him. I have a profound sense of happiness and gratitude knowing that I can provide this opportunity for them. I know Jake will have a terrific set of experiences. All of his Hebrew School buddies are in his cabin. He is about to make bonds of a lifetime. I am just learning that I am not always going to be there. Maybe Lily and I both have a little growing up to do.