The other day I wrote about wanting to bubble wrap my not-quite-grown-up kid. I am seriously considering duct taping a protective layer around him for real.
We have seen a parade of bad-to-horrible injuries over the last few months, reaching a crescendo this past week with a series of blown ACL’s, dislocated shoulders, badly broken legs and broken hands at the races Riley’s team attended. Then we learned that a young freeskier from our community was severely injured in a training run for Nationals and airlifted to Denver. My heart breaks for her and her family, and my stomach does flip-flops at the thought of something this horrible happening to our own “baby.”
The irony is that my son didn’t think to tell me about this. He had signed a card for her, he knew that she was undergoing extensive surgery and HE DIDN’T EVEN MENTION IT to me.
What do I make of this? What does it mean when such a horrific thing happens and it doesn’t bubble up from him? Is this a defense mechanism, developed from years of putting himself in scary situations, of watching friends suffer terrible injuries, some life-ending? From facing milder trauma himself and wondering not if but when something worse will happen? Or is this a typical 17-year-old-male-ism: Why would I tell my mom about something that happened to some girl I hardly knew? More than likely it’s the latter.
And so it goes. My mom-ness freaks out, his kid-ness says huge bummer. My mom-ness empathizes and imagines what-if’s, his kid-ness moves on.
Last night, for no particular reason, we watched some old videos from his growing up years. Lots of violin recitals, baseball games, Christmas programs and kindergarten graduation. I felt very much like Chevy Chase, up in the attic, tears streaming. Well, ok, tears didn’t stream because we were having too much fun laughing at his cousin, then age six, who was killing “stupid bears” in their fort, but you get the gist.
We parents don’t video the scary times, the trips to the ER, the struggles in school. We don’t record what goes on underneath the smiling facade or the times when we cross our fingers and toes and pray that he stays safe. Those memories and feelings are indelibly etched into the undocumented pages of our life stories. Their weight is hefty enough to counterbalance the fun memories flitting across the screen. We would rather our next generation not know their heft until he feels it soon enough with his own child.
So, I smile at him and my dear husband as we turn off the videos. I give him a hug, silently grateful for the warmth in his body. I tell him he is a gift. I quietly say a prayer for all parents. And then I bring out the bubble wrap …