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Mother-Son Trip: Not the Experience Mom Expected

I remember hearing friends who have older teens say, “Yeah, I barely see my oldest son anymore—he’s so busy with sports, school and his friends.” And, like everything else in life, I didn’t understand it until I experienced it.

Recently, I was particularly excited to take my oldest son, Zach, skiing. He and I were meeting some good friends who have a son the same age as he is. And, we were driving our own car so that we could have three hours of uninterrupted quality time.

I began making the list of discussion questions in my head weeks ago. What was his favorite class and why? What type of college did he see himself attending? How was sophomore year different from freshman year? If he could go back in time and witness a historical event, which would it be? And on and on.

I could barely contain my excitement as I packed the car with snacks, and Zach arranged the skis. We proceeded down the driveway.

“Mom, can we discuss last night’s episode of The Middle?” he asked. It’s our family’s current favorite sitcom—mainly because they mirror our family. And, his question introduced a topic I hadn’t even considered. I was giddy with excitement.

“Oh, it’s funny you mention that. I just heard the kid who plays Axel is 20. Can you believe that?” I asked.

Since we live in an age where you don’t have to wonder about anything, Zach grabbed my phone and googled. He read the blurb to me, commenting about the actors and other show trivia.

Wow, this was going even better than I expected.

Then, he placed my phone in the cup holder, reclined his seat, pulled out his ear buds, placed them in his ears and closed his eyes.

What the $(%*?

I wanted to cry. We hadn’t even left our neighborhood. Didn’t he realize how special this time was? Didn’t he get that in this conversation he wouldn’t get interrupted by his siblings, and I wouldn’t get a phone call that would stifle the momentum of our time together? Didn’t he … just start snoring? Seriously?

I glanced over at him, and he looked so peaceful. I could hear his music and noticed the slightly turned up sides of his mouth, revealing the dimples I love. I was reminded of the toddler who took four-hour naps and fell asleep in his high chair with food still in his hand. I almost descended into full-blown nostalgia, until I slapped myself back to reality. His dozing and my musing on the good ole’ days was so NOT what I envisioned for our journey across I-90.

Zach dozed on and off the entire ride. I chatted to myself. Good thing I make such great company.

We arrived at the ski hill and brought all of our gear into the lodge. He left with his friend, and I with mine. Lunch was a blur, and by dinner we were all nearly asleep. By 9 p.m., I could barely keep my eyes open. I muttered a half-hearted good night.

Zach muttered back, “’Night mom. Oh, and thanks. By the way, I’m so glad it’s just the two of us.”

I snickered at his inherited sarcasm, but then I realized something. He was actually serious. He was glad he wasn’t sharing a bed with his brother. He was glad we weren’t getting interrupted. And he was glad to be away, just the two of us—exactly like I envisioned.

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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