Saturday, November 07, 2015

I'm 12 For a Moment

His deep voice, slightly off key and not yet fully settled into the eventual lower register it will occupy for the rest of his life, accompanies me...

"100 Years"

I'm 15 for a moment
Caught in between 10 and 20
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

I'm 22 for a moment
And she feels better than ever
And we're on fire
Making our way back from Mars

15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got a hundred years to live

I'm 33 for a moment
Still the man, but you see I'm a "they"
A kid on the way, babe.
A family on my mind

I'm 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I'm heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life

15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose yourself
Within a morning star

15 I'm all right with you
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got a hundred years to live

Half time goes by
Suddenly you’re wise
Another blink of an eye
67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We're moving on...

I'm 99 for a moment
And dying for just another moment
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

15 there's still time for you
22 I feel her too
33 you’re on your way
Every day's a new day...

(oh oh ohs)

15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got a hundred years to live

So apropos, these lyrics he belts out with passion, hands gesturing unselfconsciously, just he and I and the music speaking where his heart is this very moment.

Not yet 15, but definitely caught between 10 and 20, this beautiful soul sitting next to me is feeling so very much the fast fading childhood as puberty has grabbed hold of the unsuspecting boy and is dragging him toward adulthood without asking him if he is ready or not.  A new haircut accompanies the ever broadening shoulders, and the conversation deepens with each passing mile.

We are heading to Colorado Springs, Josh and I, so he can attend his first middle and high school retreat at LaForet, the kids' beloved church camp.  There is a special sort of courage exhibited here that others wouldn't be able to identify, as this is Josh's most difficult time of  year emotionally, old feelings rise to the surface with inexplicable history that bring about an always present anxiety for several weeks.  Yet here he is, going to spend the weekend alone, unaccompanied by a friend or sibling, and I notice something.

"Josh, are you nervous going alone?  Today you seem relaxed and so happy."

He thinks for a moment and says, "I am happy and I am not nervous.  LaForet is sacred, and it always makes me feel better to be there.  And I know I will make friends within the first hour.  It's just the way it works there."

Hmmm...I told him that maybe we had stumbled upon a concrete way to help him through his annual depression.  If he enjoyed this, I suggested that we make it a priority for him to go every year and that having something he knew would bring peace to his heart might help eventually lessen those feelings that always surface in the fall.  He thought about it for a moment, and I realized I may have just seen a light bulb moment. 

I continued, "You know Josh, you may never get rid of these feelings, they may always hit you in the fall, or you may always feel insecure during life changes, but you can be intentional and proactive in dealing with it to lift you out of it more quickly.  You can discover things that help you feel more secure and then reach out for them when things don't feel right.  You don't have to just give in to it.  You can do what you did last year and come to me to share how you feel, reaching out to others always helps and then you don't feel so alone.  As an adult, you might want to make sure you have something to look forward to in the fall that distracts you and gives you hope.  You have the power to help yourself feel better, and I think you are old enough now to notice it, name it, and work with it."

He sat there quietly thinking, and then said, "Mom, that's not a bad idea, and maybe if I do go to retreats in the fall the next few years through high school, I might find that fall doesn't bother me at all someday."

Gradual insights lead to lifelong healing, we hope.

We drove on, music playing quietly in the background, conversation so different and more adult than a year ago.  He brought up one of his concerns about being left alone at home after everyone else grows up, and I explained that by the time that happened he might be ready himself for new adventures, and that it was up to all of us to make sure our family was tight knit and there for each other.  I also shared with him that Matt had told me that he had no plans to leave after high school graduation, that he wanted to pursue his education at home...and he also said he knew Josh might need them all around longer.  The love our kids have for each other overwhelms even me sometimes, they are such a real team and truly care that each one of them succeeds.  

He shares his feelings about each of his siblings, and he expressed deep compassion for Kenny's concerns about his future, for some emotional struggles Angela has battled the past few weeks, and said he wished he remembered as much as everyone else in the family did!  He told me, "I was so young I don't remember a ton of things we did, or things like when Kenny or the girls came home.  To me, it feels like they've always been here, and I don't remember how hard it was.  For me, it was easy, but I know it wasn't from what all of you say!" and then chuckling, he added, "Maybe that's a good thing, right?" 

As the miles passed, we touched on everything  being scared to one day ask a girl out on a date, to his love for Colorado and how he can never imagine living in the city, and hopes he can always live in Montrose or some place nearby because it is so peaceful and calm.  Interestingly, we talked about future careers for him, despite him saying he had no clue what he wanted to do someday, but then asked if I could imagine him as a policeman, or a paramedic.  Talking out the pros and cons of those careers was interesting, and I was able to throw in what I saw as his unique gifts and talents, and he provided weaknesses.  No fireman, I learned, he hates the heat and is scared of fire!  He clearly doesn't want a desk job, though he doesn't want to be working at hard physical labor like Dominick.  We joked about building a chain of liquor stores that he could run, and when I said, "Yea maybe all across the state!" and laughed, he said, "Oh no Mom, internationally!!!" and we got a kick over that.

I got serious for a moment, and turned to him and told him I wanted to tell him something.  "Josh, I want you to know that I think you are an incredible young man, and at 12 years old there is no rush at all to imagine a future for yourself yet.  I know it might feel like it as the older kids are talking about theirs, but they are in a different position than you are, and it is OK to be a kid longer.  But I also really want you to hear me on this...I don't think I have had the chance to tell you what a solid young man you have become, how strong and capable you present, and yet you have this unique tender side of you that is compassionate and connected in ways most young men your age are not.  You are very bright, and can do anything in the world you want to do, you are very lucky to have been blessed with a good brain.  But more importantly, I see developing in you an extraordinarily kind, thoughtful young man."  I then added, "You know how you were saying that Matt feels so solid, like all is ok when he is around?"  He looked at me, waiting for me to continue as he affirmed that.  "You feel very much the same way to me.  You don't see it yet, but I feel safe with you, I feel I am with a wise, strong young man...not a little kid."

Oh, the look on his face.  I'll never forget that look.  How I wish I could have recorded that.  It was like his budding manhood was affirmed, as it should be.

I threw out something to him to think about, as well. "You know what career might seem silly to you, but I see really fitting with who you are?"

"What's that?" he asked.

"I think you would make a phenomenal nurse." I replied.

Raised eyebrow, interest caught, he said, "I never would have thought of that."

He asked about the levels of nursing, the possible income, and how hard it is to get through school.  Then he asked, "Why do you think I would be a good nurse?"

"Because you are incredibly compassionate, intelligent, and would make very wise and confident decisions in an emergency.  You think well on your feet, and you exude an inner peace that would really benefit patients, and that comes from you being so tapped in to your spiritual side, and that is growing for you.  Sort of an unbeatable combination of gifts for nursing...oh yea, and you don't freak out at all over blood and guts." and we grinned at each other, images of previous dissections of various snakes, worms, and baby birds no doubt displayed by our joint memory.

Our time alone together drew to a close as we pulled up at camp.  Ever the gentleman, he offers me he has ever larger firm hand as we walk up the steps to his cabin, and he grabs for it again as we head back over the drop off point.  I ask him if he remembered everything, and he checks off his list, saying, "Bible, clothes for two days, pillow, sleeping bag..." and then as casually as if he were still 4 years old he adds, "Blankies."

The term Man-Child so applies, and my mommy heart melted a little when without shame or concern,  he revealed that he brought his two little blankies with him to camp.  As tall as I am these days, peach fuzz mustache near requiring a razor, and the heart of the boy still resides within.  His body betrayed him a bit, maturing faster than he was ready, but wise person that he is, he will not let that dictate at what speed he moves through the world.  Straddling childhood and teenage years for awhile is perfectly OK.  He gets ready to get out of the car, and suddenly, for a brief moment, I see his fear arise.  Leaning over to give me a hug and a kiss, he looks me in the eye and says, "OK, guess I gotta go in, right?", the question lingering softly. 

"Yea, go ahead, they'll be waiting for you." I nudge him.  

He climbs out of the car, lumberman jacket on, and just as the door slips from his fingers to close, he grabs for it, climbs back in, and kneeling on the seat gives me a long, tight hug.  He pulls back, and I realize that walking in there alone to join what will be 90 kids for two days feels scarier in this saying goodbye moment than it did on the long drive over.  Bravado gone, he is 7 or 8 years old before me.

Smiling, I reassure him.  "You'll have such a great time, I can't wait to hear about it on the drive home.  Go ahead."  then I add, "You'll be ok, you're ready for this."

Breathing in deeply, he slowly gets out, and looks through the dark at the warmly lit Ingliss Hall.  He turns back at me and says, "You're right.  I love you!  See you in a couple days."  He turned, squared his shoulders, and off he went.

Watching him walk away, I knew in that very moment, as all moms know, that this was, in some ways, another gradual letting go of childhood.

He doesn't realize the man is waiting in the wings, ready to emerge...and what a fine, strong young man he will be.

I love you, Joshua LaJoy...boy or man, or something in between for awhile.  I'll always be here for you.

12 years old for a moment...

Josh on the left, a mere 2 years ago at camp.

So little on the far right, 2 years ago.