It’s about 10 a.m. on Saturday morning and I am in my home office puttering around. I hear the door open down the hall signaling that Noah has awoken from Teenage Slumberland. He pads down the hall and, on his way to his bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, he stops in for what has become his usual morning greeting.GOOOOOOD morning, Mom. How are you?
He leans down and kisses my cheek. And then:Love you!
From there he heads downstairs, leaving me with a perplexed, silly grin which should have disappeared by now as I have been getting this Royal Mom treatment for a few solid weeks – and NOT just in the mornings.
Unlike Chase who seems to have taken on the habits and commitment level of a feral cat this summer, Noah will stop for a hug when passing me in the kitchen or he will tell me he loves me when I enter his room to ask him to please clean it. His attentiveness never ceases to disarm me – and I am certainly not complaining – but lately I am wondering what is behind this new found affection.
At my worst, I wonder if his actions are a furtive ploy to keep me at bay from his clandestine life. I imagine that there is an Internet site somewhere that offers teenage guidance on How to Hoodwink your Parents in 5 easy steps. One of those suggested strategies might be:At every opportunity possible, tell your mother that you love her. Give her a hug or a kiss. Don’t forget to smile and whatever you do, don’t linger as that provides opportunity for prying or questioning. Showing a brief but heartfelt level of affection accomplishes a number of things:
- Your mother thinks you are happy.
- Your mother thinks you are a good son who can do no wrong.
- You father sees that you are making your mother happy.
And indeed it is. If Noah’s overt kindness is contrived, I have fallen for it. Hook line and sinker. I don’t hassle him about how he is spending his time, I don’t check his cell phone or email, and I have yet to mention summer reading. And while I can’t say that he is enjoying this laissez faire attitude because I get a kiss each morning, I can say that if he was behaving badly, sadly or otherwise aloof, I would absolutely get into his shit much, much more. (Note to Chase: If you are reading this post, I have just given you a precise road map away from my concerned questioning about your feelings for the rest of the summer. You’re welcome.)
But at my best, I think that Noah really IS happy, actually DOES love me– and has successfully emerged from The Surly Years, perhaps early (he has always been precocious) and decidedly unscathed (I never ACTUALLY tried to kill him.) And all those times, I thought I had ruined him? Wiped clean. My Jewish Mother’s work is done…. Well, almost done…. Okay never done. But at least I have one thing less to worry about.
The reality of it all is probably somewhere in between. His affection is authentic, but fleeting. Noah has always been in touch with his emotions – and unafraid to express himself whether he is feeling good or bad. So we are obviously on a good streak. But, come September when we are all running around, tripping over the stress of early mornings, long term assignments and harried schedules, I predict that there will be seemingly no time, space or energy for niceties. A nod and a smirk will once again substitute for real, heartfelt connection.
Maybe that will be the time to check his text messages. (Hear that kiddo? Keep it coming, love. Keep it coming.)