Jeffrey’s been a little sullen and mouthy lately. I’ve been chalking it up to hormones starting to kick in and cutting him a little slack, while still making it clear what I expect from him- and making sure he knows how much he’s loved. More often than not when I pick him up at school, he’s disgruntled and ticked about something his sibling did, or is somehow embarrassed. I generally roll with it and if I can get him to laugh, we’re all reset and good again. Today he tossed his backpack in and slumped into the seat next to me, but turned to me and smiled.
“Mom? You know what? You’re cool. I think you’re cooler than a lot of other moms.”
“Oh yeah?” I venture cautiously, slipping my sunglasses from the top of my head back over my eyes, and glance sideways at him. “What brought on this epiphany?”
“Yeah. I was just thinking, you know? Like, you go to school, and you write, and people want to hear you talk and you don’t look like the other moms, and you like playing Dropkick Murphys loud and you like Johnny Cash and sometimes you let us make big messes and paint stuff.” He’s digging Legos out of his pockets and piling them in the cupholder as he’s talking.
“Hmmm. Interesting. Other moms aren’t like that?” I’m trying not to smile, but I’m tickled at his observations.
He giggles, wrinkling his nose in a spray of freckles, “NoooooOOOOO! Other moms have tons and tons of rules and worry about the floor getting messy or things spilling or stuff. Rules and rules and rules.”
“I have rules!” I smile at him.
“Yeah… but only a few. We have to be nice to each other. We have to clean up any mess we make. We can’t say swears. And we have to clean up our room so you can have a path to our bed. That’s about it. Oh, and our laundry. I hate the laundry part. But I guess it’s okay.”
From the backseat, Abby hollers “Put on ‘State of Massachusetts!'” Jeffrey slides the disk in the stereo and turns it up. In my rearview mirror, I see Bean nodding his head to the rhythm and smiling, the autumn sunlight slanting deep through the orange trees into my children’s copper hair as we drove towards home.
Thank you, my children, for being who you are. Satisfaction seated in my heart and soul, at least for this afternoon.