A tall, handsome young man arrived back in our lives, full of tales about the college experience and all that has changed in the world. In the few weeks he was with us we saw shades of the boy who left breakthrough. Moments when manhood was left behind and the little boy returned.
A quiet conversation with his mother in the middle of the day emerged out of nowhere. Like a seed that had been planted and was hidden beneath the soil. With the right amount of sunlight and water it germinates and breaks through, a little green shoot of the little fellow we knew emerges from within the strong young man.
A naughty boy moment when father and son decide to have another drink together when they know they have had enough. Or that extra portion that was added to the already large home delivery order so that there will be leftovers for breakfast.
As the day draws closer for him to pack his bag and leave, shades of the young man return. A tussle between the boy and man is visible. Decisive and clear about what he wants and how he wants it one minute; Happy to be pampered and looked after the next, enjoying the luxury of not having to make any decisions and having everything taken care of. This dance continues till we reach the airport and off he strides through the sliding doors.
Without a look back, the shoulders squared he heads to the ticket counter. We hover outside, trying to see where he is if he is fine. Should we wait? Will he need something? Has he forgotten anything? And then we realise there is not much we can do anymore. We have spent 19 years preparing him for this adventure and while we will always have his back, he should not look back.
The next day when we see his smiling face on screen the young man is speaking to us again. He is happy and so are we. The house seems empty, the whirlwind of energy has abated, and we fall back into our routines. We know that we must fill up our lives, as he leaves the space opens up for us to discover new things. And yet we can’t wait for him to return with stories and experiences, about his adventures, some good, other great. Many bruises too that have taught him what to watch out for and a few scars as well.
The beautiful part about coming back to his parents is that he always gets to choose when he wants to be that little boy again. He can leave the young man at the doorstep for a while and enjoy the feeling of being home. This is the joy of having a safe space where he gets to be anyone he wants to be. We love the man he has become and the boy he will always be to us. His leaving home has been as big a step for him as it is for us. It’s the next phase of us having to grow up.
While this idea of the child in each of us needing to find its way through and live alongside the adult was triggered by my son’s visit home from university, the lockdown life and work from home world we currently inhabit has brought many families together again. This dance between the child and the adult is not an easy one to navigate. Young men and women who have got used to living life on their terms are having to learn to live under their parent’s roofs again. In other cases, parents are having to learn how to fit into the lives of their adult children. Whatever may be the case, the magical place that home can be is the place where the child in each one of us can come out and play. Finding a way to stay in touch with this playfulness is such an important way to bring lightness into our lives when times are dark.
I would like to end with some Facebook wisdom, from a quote that I don’t know who to attribute to – “The creative adult is the child who survived” so here is a reminder to find the child in myself and stay in touch with him so that my creativity can find its way through. Waiting for your next visit home son, till then, we shall play on.
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