Dude is not much of a talker. He only says something when he has something to say. (I wish more people were like that, quite honestly). I’ve spent YEARS trying to coax my oldest son to open up, to confide in me, to tell me something, anything, that’s going on in his head or in his life. But I’ve failed – I am not his confidante. To my knowledge, he doesn’t have a confidante.
But I’m the mom, what do I know?
So when he talks, you listen. And when he offers something about his life, you REALLY listen.
Like at dinner the other night …
As usual, we were sitting around the dinner table, having dinner, (because yes, we eat dinner as a family every night because I think it’s terribly important even if we’re not talking, we’re sharing the same space for a small amount of time and that’s good enough for me. I’d rather be available for those time periods when the kids have something to say than not), and Dude was in one of his rare sharing moods.
Jazz had just showed us his mid-quarter grades – straight A’s. And we asked Dude how his classes were going – what sorts of grades was he receiving? He shrugged, as he always does and I jokingly said, “You ARE going to class, right??”
*insert nervous laugh*
(Because honestly, I wonder sometimes. But I guess I’ll find out for sure when this semester is over and we demand to see his transcript. *gulp* I mean, I’m SURE the kid is going, but there is a tiny part of me that wonders …)
He just grimaced (I get that look a lot), and shrugged. (I get the shrug a lot, too). But there was something different about him – his expression softened and I knew he was about to share something with us. I held my breath and prayed Kevin wouldn’t scare him off by saying something awkward.
“I’m doing okay,” he said. “I got a 10 out of 10 on an English paper the other day.”
(I can’t help but preen whenever I hear how the boys do in English because I’ve honestly worked them TO DEATH over the years on how important it is to learn proper English. That, and I’m a word geek and I can’t help myself).
The assignment? Write about a turning point in your life.
I tried not to look too interested. Because you know how that goes – look like you’re into it and the kid shuts down.
I shrugged. “Oh yeah?” I was dying to know more.
I don’t remember who exactly told me the subject of his paper (I think Kevin might have mentioned it and then Dude elaborated – which sort of hurt my feelings a bit because Dude confided in his dad and not in me … but then again, I’m not around much nowadays what with working full time now), but Dude had written about the time that Kevin was in the hospital in Columbia Missouri to have his pelvis rebuilt after his motorcycle accident.
(We had to go to Columbia because there wasn’t a doctor in Springfield who specialized in pelvis reconstruction).
Kevin was in the hospital for two weeks – I lived in the hospital with Kevin for two weeks.
With my mother-in-law. Which sounds worse than it was.
When we ran out of clean clothes, we went to Wal-Mart and bought sweats. When we couldn’t stand the smell of each other anymore, we rented a hotel room for the day to take a shower. (Later, one of the nurses took pity on us and told us where to find a shower in the hospital).
And the boys? Lived on their own at our house for two weeks so they could continue going to school (though they really weren’t all that alone, relatives fed them and kept an eye on them, but still, they were parent-less).
I never really thought about HOW that experience affected our boys. I mean, I worried about them, of course, but I had my hands full with Kevin (like getting up at 2:00 in the morning and holding a trash can steady so he could puke his guts up – that sort of thing).
But they were 16 and 14 at the time – I knew they would be okay. My sole focus was on Kevin and making sure the the nurses didn’t overdose him with pain meds. (Hey, it happens. DON’T LEAVE YOUR LOVED ONES TOTALLY ALONE IN THE HOSPITAL – just sayin’).
That time period made Dude grow up. He said that was a defining moment for him. Not only was he responsible for his little brother, but he became the “man” of the house while his dad was working through his pain and recovery.
I had no idea he felt that way. I had no idea Kevin’s accident had affected him that way.
I also wonder how many MORE life events affected him over the years?
Maybe one day, I’ll find out.