Friday, April 30, 2010
I have this recurring nightmare (one of several, actually). In it, I'm getting ready for a tsunami I know is coming. Only I can't really get ready because it's only moments away, and there's nothing I can do about it. I can't run. I can't duck into my submarine for cover. I can't build a wall to hold it back. And I'm standing there, watching it as it rises in the distance, getting higher and higher until it fills the sky and is just a few feet away from crashing over me. And then I wake up.
I'm sure dream interpreters would have something to say about this. My unprofessional opinion, however, is that I hate being unprepared for anything. I like to know, going into something, exactly what is expected of me, and I want to make sure I have all of the equipment necessary to deal with it. So one of my biggest fears is knowing what's coming and having to just stand there and watch it happen. Another of my biggest fears is the ocean. Combine them, and that's my nightmare. Or, as I said, it's one of them.
Lately, I've been watching a tsunami approach and have been in denial that it's ever going to truly come all the way to shore. And it's my thirteen-year-old son.
I've been able to laugh off him walking ten feet ahead of or behind me in public. I've been able to laugh off him hunching up in his seat at the movie theater while sitting next to me, as if people behind us might recognize him and see that (gasp) he's with his mother. I've been able to laugh off him bringing friends home and disappearing into the basement with hardly a nod at me. And I've been able to laugh because I know he's just becoming more independent, finding his own way, his own identity. Those are all things that are important for a teenage boy. And I've also been able to laugh because when his friends aren't around, he actually talks to me. We have conversations. He shares stories with me of what happened that day at school. We laugh together. And I think he might even like me.
And then this morning...
I had to drop him off early at school for a bake sale he was helping to run for Relay for Life. And, honest to goodness, he snarled at me most of the way there. I'd ask a question, and he'd bare his teeth. I thought we were having a discussion; he apparently thought I was trying to steal his water buffalo carcass from him.
When I got home, I called my mother. "What do I do now?" I asked her. "He's turned into a teenager."
Mom laaaughed. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "Welcome to the club. You don't do anything."
I said, "Will he come back?"
She said, "Of course."
We hung up, and I asked my seven-year-old daughter, while I was braiding her hair and she was reading me a story she's writing, "Are you going to be like that when you turn thirteen?"
"No," she insisted.
The first tsunami has landed, and I saw it coming, and fat lotta good that did me--the "seeing" it. And three more are on the way, aren't they? The one who turns eleven in a few days is approaching. Then I have to worry about the seven-year-old (and, being a girl, she'll be a tough one, I'm afraid). Finally, the five-year-old will finish off what's left of me--IF there's anything left of me at that point. I see myself tattered and torn, my clothing shredded (either from the wind and waves or from renting them in sorrow), my face gaunt, my back bent as I cling to a tree in our backyard with my eyes closed . . . and all four of my tsunamis asking, "Was she always like this?"
Nope. She wasn't.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go out and invest in some heavy-duty rope to keep me wrapped around that tree for the next . . . (I'm counting) . . . thirteen or fourteen years.