Elder had spring break last week.

So, I was able to check on him every morning. I knew where he was every day. And every night, he appeared at my bedside, lowering his head so I could kiss his blond curls.

And sometimes he would wander about halfway across the bedroom to leave then return to lower his head for another kiss.

He has almost finished his sophomore year of college and will be twenty-one in July. So, a little part of me always wonders if the current break is the last break he will spend at home.

Saturday night, as I was putting dinner away, he hollered, “Mom, come watch M*A*S*H with us.”

And so I tucked the last plate into the dishwasher and wandered into the living room to plop onto the sofa. He promptly sprawled across my lap, sending our border collie into spasms as she had to witness him receiving snuggles she believes belong only to her.

Then, Sunday, he piled his laundry and books back in his car, and he left.

Because he has a life he has to live. A life full of joy and sorrows and beautiful moments.

Because little boys grow into young men.

And moms have to let them.




Meddling Kids

On Sunday, we took advantage of the warm weather to give our two dogs a bath — a task dreaded by all of us, perhaps most especially the dogs. And we chose to wash Dusty first, as she is the fastest and was already warily eyeing the hose being dragged from the basement. Then, as I finished rinsing the soap from her fur, ignoring the indignation in her glare, I sent Younger into the house to retrieve the as-yet-oblivious George.

And as I glanced up to see him trudging towards the house in his socks, I added, “And don’t you leave footprints across my wood floor!”

“But Mom,”he objected, barely glancing at me as he turned towards the garage, “then how will Scooby Doo find me?”

I frowned at him. Until he disappeared into the shaded interior of the house.

Then I dipped my head and grinned. I might have even laughed.

But I can’t really let him know he entertains me.

I already have sufficient supply of snarkiness from that meddling kid.

Feel My Pain

Despite breaking my heart and quitting football, Younger had continued to take a weights class until last semester, when he simply could not fit one in his schedule. At the start of the new semester a few weeks ago, he was able to once again join the class, although he did so with much trepidation after missing several months of workouts.

And now when I ask him to perform simple tasks — feed the dogs and cats, throw his trash away, actually put his plate in the dishwasher — I hear, “But my muscles, Mom — they hurt.”

Apparently not satisfied with the level of sympathy he was receiving one day, he decided to elaborate. “Mom, I don’t think you understand just how much I pain I am in. I woke up in the middle of the night last night because I rolled over.”

Then this morning, as we prepared to leave the house, I asked, “You have everything you need for weights today?”

“Yeah,” he mumbled.  “Except for muscles, endurance, and a will to live.”

One class I know he doesn’t need — drama.

He’s already got that all figured out.


What I think our animals think when I clean the house:

Dusty  (our border collie): She’s using the evil forces again. I shall remain in the bubble of safety surrounding the stairs. I will not even look upon evil, so that it might not catch me in a weak moment.

George  (our lab mix who spent five years in an animal shelter): She cannot hear me over the caterwauling of the blue machine, so I must follow her to let her know I am still in existence. And when she stops, I must halt, also, unknowingly behind her. I am not sure why she does that flip backwards over me. I think she must enjoy it, but now I, too, should find the safety of the stairs.

Seven and Thirteen (our two rescued black cats): What is this loud noise? I must see. Too close. Back up, back up. What is this pet that spews liquid onto the floor? I shall catch it as it moves, back and forth, back and forth. Leap. Now. Sticky paws. Sticky paws. High step, high step. What is she doing with the pile of clothes I have been napping upon? No, she must not have that washcloth. I must first render it un-living. I must, I must. Ah, okay. She can have the washcloth. But not the sock. Not this sock. It is mine. Mine, I say. Mine, mine, mine. Why is she fussing over the animal I brought for her? I did render it un-living. Why has she not sit down and cuddled me? I shall climb her like a tree. Ah, yes, claws work good. We’re going outside now? I shall find her another animal.



Elder is now twenty years old. Well, twenty years and two days, actually.

For the last several weeks, Younger taunted, “Have you realized, Mom, that in just a few weeks, Elder will no longer be a teenager?”

Then late Monday night, when I texted that I loved and missed him while he traveled with his Dad, Younger responded, “Elder is 19 years 364 days, and 21 years old. Still love/miss me?”

Not quite as much.

The last day I had with my oldest as a teenager, he sprawled on the sofa with his head in my lap. “Stop petting my hair,” he told me, shaking his head so the curls fell back into place. “I’m not a dog.” But then after a moment, he offered, “You can scratch my back.”

“I thought you weren’t a dog,” I countered.

But I scratched his back.

And now Younger is the only teenager in our household.

Which he views as a position to be spoiled.

How did the years slip through greedy fingers? How did the tiny baby wrapped tightly in a blanket morph overnight into a grown man?

When exactly did I lose control?

Oh, yeah, I remember.

July 12, 1996.

Robots and Their Followers

We now have a Roomba. Which is a great cleaning tool. But an even better source of entertainment.

Our border collie hides on the stairs while the little round robot rolls in mystical patterns across the wood floor, but our black lab, who usually follows me when I’m cleaning, now trails his new buddy.

Which I thought was amusing.

Then I cranked up the Roomba last night for the first time while Younger was home.

And when I glanced up from cooking dinner, I discovered the teenager traipsing behind the squat robot, gleefully announcing, “Oh, oh, you’re stuck now. How ya gonna — Oh. Well. Now, where ya goin’?”

A Roomba, a couple dogs, and a teenager . . . the fun may never end.

That Moment

That moment, when you are on the phone with a friend and you have to say, “I’m sorry, I have to hang up and panic now. I have half a bottle of rubber cement spilled across my hardwood floor.”

And in the back of your mind, a little voice is crying, “But my boys are nineteen and sixteen.”

Yeah, I had that moment.

While Elder spun in useless circles, my husband grabbed a dishtowel, and I threw up both hands, palms out, and begged, “Can’t we just use paper towels?”

Because I knew I wouldn’t throw a dishtowel soaked in rubber cement into my washing machine and hope for only good things.

So, a roll of paper towels and a bottle of floor cleaner later, we were fairly confident the floor had been rescued. And Elder hugged me goodbye with another apology and hauled books and laundry to his car. Sitting on the edge of the garage floor, my arm around our border collie so she wouldn’t chase him, I waved at Elder as he rolled down the drive.

I sighed.

The dog licked my face.

And I gingerly climbed to my feet to return to the house.

Two hours later, Elder called. “Hey, Mom, I forgot my student ID.”

“Don’t you need the ID to get into your room?”

“Uh, yeah.”

I love Elder with my whole heart.

And that’s the only reason we are both still alive.