My 15-year-old “baby” and I went for a drive on the Natchez Trace today, with him behind the wheel.
It’ was a strikingly beautiful day – bright blue skies, slightly warm November temperatures and the red and gold hues of fall foliage still lingering.
This fellow of mine has always been a good conversationalist – making sharp observations and describing people in ways that make me think. (He recently described someone that we love as “what you would get if all my music suddenly became a person. It’s awkward and doesn’t quite fit, but I still really like him.”)
Something even more magical happens to our conversations when my son is behind the wheel. He’s somehow even funnier – more keenly observant and delightfully relaxed at the same time.
The sun is setting on my time as an active parent of kids. His sister is heading to college in January – 1.5 years early, but still leaving just the same. And while she will be only 30 minutes from home, she will still be missed on those nights she is in her dorm instead of with us.
My son is closing in on 15.5, and I know that his remaining time under our roof will go back lightning quick.
So today, as we drove aimlessly, there were no lessons. (I didn’t even nag him when he veered the slightest bit into oncoming traffic after being distracted by some ridiculously cute cows.)
Instead, we laughed – about the antics of a friend who is surprising us, about how ridiculously bad I am at math, and about the hilariousness that is wildlife crossings. (How does the sensor come on to notify us animals are crossing? Do the animals have to push a button? And which wildlife? Maybe there are sensors that go off when deer approach, but what about turtles? Rabbits? Low-flying birds? This continues to both intrigue an amuse us.)
As we hit the off ramp near our house, I looked over at my boy, who is now upwards of 6’2″ – definitely far more man-child than baby – and it occurred to me that of all my memories of him, it’s the ones of us laughing that I treasure the most.
And so we will keep working to make those memories. We will laugh about the antics of our dogs, and our friends. We will sometimes laugh at my expense – at what an atrocious cook I am, and at how sometimes I don’t quite get the laundry right. We will even laugh about the familiar – and unnerving – noises that our family makes around the dinner table.
I will try to slow down each of those laughter-filled moments, seeing them for the treasures they are.
The fall colors will continue to turn. Adulthood looms. But the laughter remains.