As I stared at the lump of flesh passed out on the couch, the pressure within the magma chamber of my brain began to boil. Within seconds, my anger couldn’t be contained, and an explosive stream of words erupted over my sleeping child.
“Tim, I didn’t travel halfway around the world to watch you sleep!”
Slowly rotating his 6-foot tall frame, he pulled the blanket over his face and grunted a phrase I hadn’t heard in a long time, “Mom, relax! We have all day.”
Immediately, my quest for a fabulous vacation billowed in front of my eyes like a puff of smoke from a bad cigar.
For the past twenty months, Tim, the 25-year-old heir apparent to the Haugh dynasty, has been living the life of a bohemian. Based in Barcelona, he tutors English by day and explores Europe on the weekends. Positive he missed me, I made the 15-hour trip to visit him.
“Things start late around here,” the hairy creature grumbled, sporting a full beard and long, disheveled Shirley Temple curls that cascaded down his back.
Wondering what I was more upset with, this new caveman look on steroids or his lax attitude with wanting to please his mother, I hissed, “This was no cheap excursion, you know.”
Leaving our apartment, it quickly became apparent that traveling with a son was going to be quite different than with a daughter. There’d be no stopping to browse cute shops along the boulevard. Lunch was just a pit stop, and resting at a café for a glass of wine late in the afternoon to discuss feelings was wishful thinking on my part. No, the plans I had for this trip went spinning in a swirling vortex down a Spanish toilet.
Forcing myself to remember the saying, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do,” I thought perhaps an attitude adjustment was in order. While I wasn’t in Italy, I was on my son’s turf and who better than Tim to decide how the day should flow?
It wasn’t long before eating dinner at 10 pm and sleeping till noon became as natural as eating strawberries on shortcake. Shopping could wait until I got back to the states, but I was still having issues with our communication. While I spoke in flowery, melodic narratives that dragged on forever, Tim conversed in staccato beats of black and white leaving much to the imagination. And then, without warning, it happened.
Tipping his hand one evening, he briefly displayed his cards revealing all he garnered as private before drawing them back to his chest. My job, should I want to continue to stay in the game, was to listen quietly and ask no questions. Thankfully, I did.
Leaving Barcelona 8 days later, I did what I always do when saying goodbye to one of my kids. I blubbered. But these were sobs of a different kind.
By allowing my child to converse in his special dialect, without my annoying constant interruption, he opened up his heart and let me into his world. I became a witness to the incredible person he’s become, while still maintaining the sweetness he possessed as a child. Tim is no longer a little boy, but an independent, deep thinking, and kind young man. His values are solid, and he remains true to himself following his path, always authentic.
I traveled to Spain for an adventure but got more than I bargained for. By crossing the threshold that had blocked us in his youth, communication was allowed to easily flow. I arrived as his mother but left as his friend.
It’s not easy raising a child of the opposite sex, especially when you don’t speak the same language. I’ve often wondered how you bridge the gap and what tools were necessary to do that. What methods have you used to communicate with your growing children?