Hiking along the ridge above our canyon with my Youngest, in the cold clear bluster of the day:
"Tell me one good thing about having me as a parent and one thing you would like me to do differently."
"Hmmmm. One. Good. Thing. I’m going to have to think about that. Let. Me. See. One good thing…"
He breaks out into laughter. "Just kidding. One good thing is that you are trying to teach me about finances and I think that will be helpful to me in the future."
"OK. Now what would you like me to change?"
"Allriightt! Well now, I have a list…Nahh. Well, one thing I would like is if you would let me go places and hang out with my friends more – like the mall at Century City."
We spend a little time discussing why I think malls are HELL ON EARTH and NO GOOD FOR ANYONE"S SOUL and how I would let him go play touch football in the park with a bunch of friends in a heartbeat. Then I remember that, in certain discussions, information is really beside the point.
Below us, a line of sycamores runs along the deepest part of the canyon. He follows behind me on the narrow, rocky trail.
I return to the point:
"So, you wish I would give you more freedom, is that right?
"Well, here is the thing for both of us to keep an eye on. I have my ideas about what is appropriate for 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 year olds to do. BUT, you are my youngest, my last, my baaaaaby, and so I might be vulnerable to holding onto you more tightly than I should. So, if we have a disagreement about what is OK for you do to, I need to make sure to check in with myself to make sure I am acting the way I am because I really believe it and not because you’re my baby and I don’t want to lose you. And if you think I am being unreasonable, you can remind me to check in with myself about that too. Because I will be vulnerable to not wanting you to grow up and leave me."
He doesn’t answer. I pause as the trail makes a sharp turn uphill. From behind, I feel two arms slip soundlessly around my shoulders, and hold me tight.