Monkey started 7th grade this year. When I think back to 7th grade, I recall I awoke each morning at 6:30 AM with the help of my digital alarm clock which I had carefully set to 62 WHEN the night before.
Once showered, I made myself breakfast — either a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal or a bagel with cream cheese — and by 7:15 AM, I quietly walked into my parents’ bedroom, took four quarters from my father’s dresser (with his permission), so I could buy lunch. I then kissed my mother and my father who were sprawled in their king-sized bed beneath a giant comforter. I was generally met by sleepy sounds, sometimes a little muttering, and bad breath; it was a daily routine, and it worked. They got a good night’s rest, and I got to watch The New Zoo Revue on our 7” black and white television, uninterrupted, for about a half an hour.
Eventually, depending on the weather, I put on the most appropriate outdoor coat — if it was cold, I popped on mittens and a hat. Since UGGS had not yet been invented and boots were totally uncool in 1978, I always wore my clogs. From there, I made opened the front door carrying whatever I might have brought home for homework (read: nothing) and walked about 1/4 mile from my parents’ little house to the closest bus stop and waited with a cluster of other neighborhood kids.
Fast-forward 30 years. Monkey completes a similar ritual where he wakes, dresses, makes his breakfast, gathers his stuff — paper stars, drawings of dragons, pencils, books, two huge binders filled with worksheets and completed homework — and crams it all into his backpack.
I hear Monkey moving around starting at 6:20 AM, and I stick my pillow over my head. Unlike my parents who stayed in bed, confident in my organizational abilities — or never really even thought about if I had everything I needed or not — I feel totally guilty for staying in bed. I mean I suppose I could drag myself downstairs at that unseemly hour, but I am just so dang tired.
I don’t know why I feel I should go downstairs and smooch Monkey before he leaves the house. Maybe I feel like I should make sure his clothes match – because he’s not very good at that. Or maybe I feel I should check to make sure that his hair is brushed – because, to be honest, he is pretty lax in that area, too. Maybe it’s his teeth I’m worried about. You know, I just like to make sure that he in minty-fresh before he heads out the door because, again, the whole hygiene thing is currently not his forte.
I don’t do this though.
So typically Monkey does just what I used to do. He comes upstairs to announce he is leaving.
Except some days, he doesn’t.
Some days, the kids he walks with show up at our sliding glass doors and I hear the glass doors roll across the floor followed by a slam. I lie there, imagining him walking down the back steps, towards the enormous school that looms in our backyard. (I know it was designed to look like a dairy farm; still, it looms.)
On those days, I miss him.
My husband wonders what is wrong with me.
He says I should be thrilled that we have raised an independent person who can make cereal and bagels and waffles and eggs and (sometimes) remembers to brush his teeth and hair.
And I am.
But it doesn’t mean I’m not working against some weird maternal energy that wants to “just check” on him.
My parents never sweated over this stuff.
At what age did your parents step out of the picture so you could start doing things independently? How are you about completely stepping out of the picture? And more importantly, what morning TV shows did you watch while your parents were sleeping?
© Renée Schuls-Jacobson 2011. All rights reserved.