Without a hint of discontent or moodiness, J wants to be alone. His congeniality is abundant, but it’s reserved for when he wants to be with us. Yesterday we had several J sightings, during two of them he humored us and went for a walk with us, but then he dashed back to his room where he happily remained until he felt inclined to come out. I feel tremendously guilty. I feel like I’ve somehow failed him and he is isolated in his space. I remember being the same age, and it seems like normal adolescent behavior to me…
This morning I went into his room to greet him and he received me with a jovial BYE! I sat in front of him, hugged him and gave him “fish kisses” which made him giggle. Then he told me to take a hike. I haven’t felt this middle-aged in days, but there it is: my son tolerates me.
The odd thing is that we feel guilty and J acts like this is uncalled for; whenever we try to approach him, he looks at us like we’re interrupting him. What is he doing when we approach him? Nothing, really. He’s just…hanging out? I knocked on the door, handed him clean sheets for his bed and he took the sheets, smiled and said BYE. Fifteen minutes later his bed was made and a pile of dirty laundry seemed to overflow from the laundry basket he put in the hallway.
In an attempt to elicit interaction, I didn’t fill the snack box yesterday or today. Aside from politely asking for cookies and noodles, J has been coming to the table to eat whatever we put in front of him. Last night he ate some steak, some steamed rice and then, happily and bouncily, he excused himself and returned to his room. There was no sullenness, no moodiness, no moping and no stormy looks…just a big smile and BYE! When I went upstairs to say good night, he smiled happily and asked me to help him with his humidifier.
Psychologists, journalists, commentators tell us to “observe our children,” “look for the signs for depression,” “try to determine if your child is sad and needs to talk.” J is happy. He’s not seemingly happy. He’s not apparently happy. He’s not pretending to be happy. He’s completely happy not having us underfoot all the time. This is a crass injustice. I want him to be happy, but I feel like I’ve neglected him by letting him be by himself and doing whatever it is he wants to do…
This weekend we didn’t go on any trips to the store. We took walks. This weekend we didn’t have a Lego; J seems unfazed. I asked him if he wanted to help me with laundry and he shrugged in much the same fashion as The Great Gonzo: sure, he seemed to say, if you want to. I asked my husband (as I often do) if he thinks J is okay. I think it’s definitely a guy thing because the answer I got was: yeah. Why do you ask?
That whole men are from Mars and women are from Venus thing is absolute horse poop, in my humble opinion. I don’t think we are THAT different, but I have to admit that there are things about men that positively stump me. We are supposed to be extremely complicated creatures, but men are a lot more confusing. It’s not that I want them to share their feelings all the time, but I’m used to seeing some sort of reaction or hint on J’s face. I’m getting nothing, and yet I know he’s fine. Does that make sense?
Along with the green cargo pants that he wears constantly, his willingness to shake things out of the dirty laundry to wear again, his alternate use of Altoids in lieu of brushing his teeth, the occasional burp or fart, J is starting to seem more like a…dude. Scrum helmet and Rasta hat aside, J is starting to develop a guy-ness that is evident. His peculiarities are surrounding something tremendously run-of-the-mill these days. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the little outbursts of the past couple of weeks seem to have ebbed away and, in their wake, the flotsam and jetsam they left was…normal?
He wants to be alone. Big woo hoo, my husband and TGG say. They feel that way, too. What does he want to be alone for? Well…you know…he’s a guy! Oh, I say, you mean…that calendar? The girls? Oh…yeah, I get that! My husband and TGG shake their heads and say no, no, that’s not just it. He’s a guy. He doesn’t need to be hanging out all the time. He…well…he has stuff he wants to do and think about and…he just wants to hang out. When he feels like it, he’ll hang out with us. What do you mean? It’s not like he’s reading. It’s not like he’s watching TV or listening to music. I got an uh-huh? as a reply. What do you mean uh-huh? What is he doing that he doesn’t want to be with us? He’s just hanging out. That’s all.
A few nights ago I knocked on J’s door to see if he wanted to hang out. He was, at the moment, happily sitting on his bed playing with Mr. Potato Head. I tried to join in, and J humored me. We put Mr. Potato Head together, but J was no longer as happy as he’d been. Once the pieces were in their proper place, J made me put the toy away and sighed. Bye, he told me. I felt a little guilty.
My husband and TGG say: well, he was having fun and you sort of ruined it for him. It’s like when you’re watching a movie you want to watch or you’re just relaxing and we walk in and ask how you are. The moment sort of deflates and is gone.
Yeah…I get it. I should feel guilty for having this urge to not feel guilty, right? Yes, TGG says, your intentions are good but…er…unnecessary? We know you care. We know you love us, but you are a pain in the ass, you know. My husband just nods and shrugs. We’re dudes, you know, TGG says. J’s a dude, too.
Never before had I felt like so much of a minority around here.