This week marks the start of the Jewish New Year. It is also the start of the school year as well. One son is going to be a sophomore in high school and…..drum roll please…..the other one is leaving for college! Yes, please bring out the violins, because this is the part that I start getting emotional. Just last week, my son and I went to a Stanford new student barbecue in Brentwood. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and 20 Stanford- bound, fresh-faced kids gathered around to talk about their upcoming move. Us parents stood around in the shade and shared our excitement and our inevitable angst. We couldn’t be happier that our kids are going off to such a fine school. This part of our lives, fits in the natural progression of our lives, doesn’t it? But it is still a bit of a bumpy ride for most of us.
When my son and I left the barbecue that day, I took a deep breath and looked down the tree-lined street. I turned and I looked up at him. (He now towers over me). I touched the back of his shoulder and pointed in front of us, “Do you see this street?”
He turned to me and said, “Yeah Mom. Of course I do.”
“When you were just born, we used to live 2 blocks away from here. Every afternoon I would put you in a stroller and walk down this very street. I loved it because it’s wide and has beautiful blooming trees,” I told him. “You know, I had this idea that kids love being pushed around in a stroller, that they would sit happily and watch the scenery. But you….you used to scream. After a few minutes you would want to jump right out of your stroller. I guess you didn’t like being strapped in, and so half the time I used to hold you in my arms and push the empty stroller along.”
My son’s face lit up. He likes to hear stories of his childhood– how his basic self-determined nature and his independent streak was even apparent at six months. Here he was at age eighteen, some things about him haven’t changed but one thing sure has. For all you moms out there who don’t have a teenage son, let me save you from a bad mistake : the most embarrassing thing for a young man is to be caught hugging his mother.
So, while walking back to our car from the barbecue. I casually looked around to make sure that none of my son’s new friends hadn’t come out. I had my perfect public moment– the coast was clear. I quickly leaned into him for a hug. My voice was breaking, but I managed to get out what was on my mind the entire time at the barbecue. “Here we are in this very street and you are ready to go my dear.” I tried to hold in my tears in front of him, but a few managed to escape.
I have a few days with him this week until he goes on his next adventure. Who knows where we will be in our lives when we next walk down this magnificent tree-lined street.