I’ve had a difficult time relating to my boys in the 15 years that they have been on this earth. Everything just came more natural with my daughter, simply because she was a girl I suppose. There have been days where I just didn’t get them you know? Over the past several years, I have watched each of them grow into the young men that they are becoming. I want to be a part of their lives, but most of the time I’m relegated to the sidelines because let’s face it – me on a skateboard is a recipe for disaster.
So I sat back, and I just watched. I observed. I learned. Boys are different from girls. Where my daughter would come and talk to me about most anything, I had to watch and see what was going on with the boys and attempt to get them to open up and talk to me about how they were feeling. It hasn’t always been an easy task, and more often than not all I would get is a few mumbles that were impossible to understand.
Defining Who They Are On Their Own
Tre is beginning to define who he is, what he wants to be. As a bi-racial child, he identifies more with his African-American heritage and if you ask him what his race is, he will without hesitation tell you that he is black. Jonathan, however, will tell you that he is white. They could not be more polar opposites from each other but when the two of them get together for some mischief and laughter, you can definitely tell that they are brothers and there is a dynamic there between them that even I cannot understand. They have their own inside jokes, of which I am usually not a part of, and will laugh hysterically at something the other has said that makes no sense at all to anyone else.
He has also been creating music using his computer (and actually gotten good at it if I do say so myself). He loves techno, rap, and some Top 40, and he loves to play with the music of each and intertwine them. He has always been the one with the best rhythm in the house as well. He gets that from his dad. So one of his other passions is the local teen dance club – Studio 360 – and hanging out with his friends once a week. He looks forward to Studio more than he does the promise of hitting his favorite skate park anymore. Another change in direction that I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for.
Jonathan has undergone his changes as well in the past year. He has almost given up on playing his X-Box any longer. He is no longer the introvert I was afraid he was becoming. This time last year, I could not get him to stop playing Call of Duty. From the time he woke till he went to sleep, that was all he wanted to do. Having his XBox Live Gold Membership meant more to him than anything else. Now I think he could care less.
The introvert has shed his cocoon and become the extroverted butterfly. He’s made new friends, joined a band, become more responsible, more respectful, and seems to have his priorities in order – most of the time. Every now and again I need to remind him that school and home come before band practice, but instead of having a meltdown or mumbling profanity under his breath, he will apologize, give me a hug, and that smile that just melts my heart and tell me he loves me … and then do what needs to be done.
Finding The Mom Moment
Do you know what the “mom moment” is? It is that very special moment in a mother’s life when you truly connect with your child as you have never done before. There are many, many mom moments you will have throughout your life with your children. As they change and grow, so will you, and those mom moments will change as well and mean different things.
Both of my boys have been different. I felt as though all of those special “mom moments” that I was experiencing were with just Tre. Jonathan was an introvert, never came out of his room, so how could I connect and have mom moments with him?
When you raise boys, you learn that sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment. That “mom moment” came this past weekend.
For about the past five years, the boys and I have talked about going to the Halloween fright fests that begin in October. Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion, and Creepy Hollow Scream Park in Glen Allen. We’ve talked about it – but we never went to any of them. I didn’t want to leave Tre out of the frightful fun, but I didn’t think that he was old enough to be able to deal with the creatures jumping out at him or appearing out of nowhere beside him.
This year though, Tre was spending his Saturday at Studio 360 and had no desire at all to join us in going to Creepy Hollow. So I posed the question to Jonathan to see if he wanted to go (thinking I’d get the brush off to spend time with his friends instead of mom). I told him that he could bring a friend along if he wanted and he said he would think about it. I was a bit disheartened, thinking I would end up getting turned down. He called me about 30 minutes later and said he wanted to go, and could he bring two friends along instead of just one?
Talk about ecstatic! I know that it may seem silly, but I’ve always wanted to be the “cool mom” the house where all the kids wanted to come and hang out because the mom was totally cool. Jonathan does not invite his friends to our house, but I’ve realized that it is more because of his dad than it is because of me – but that is another story for another day.
Scream Forest Is a Huge Understatement
So with plans in place, Tre and his friends delivered to Studio to dance their little hearts out, Jonathan, T.J., Austin, and I all headed out to the Creepy Hollow Scream Forest to challenge the ghouls and goblins to scare us if they could. Surprisingly, even with the long line of people waiting to enter, the lines moved quickly and before we knew it, we were in the meadow and headed toward the wagon and tractor that would take us to the haunted forest. I listened as the boys chatted, and realized just how amazing each of these kids were.
Before we knew it, it was our turn to hop on to the back of the wagon and head to the forest. We weren’t all that impressed with the beginning of the trail. A rickety fence and a makeshift graveyard at the entrance caused more than one smart aleck quip from the teenagers and I just stood back and laughed, hoping that the $60 that we paid for our admission would be well worth it. I remember Jonathan huddled with the other two boys for a moment and then quietly asking me, “Mom, is it okay if the guys curse? They don’t want to offend you.” I laughed and told them it was fine, that I would probably be the one screaming and cursing louder than the three of them put together. The smiles on their faces and the laughter was priceless.
Scream Forest did not disappoint. While it may have started out a bit slow on the scare factor, it did not take long before all four of us were screaming like a bunch of girls at a Taylor Swift concert. At one point as we were going through the pitch black haunted house with only our sense of touch to guide us through the maze of walls and hanging bodies and arms reaching out to grab us – we connected. My son and his friends, all clinging together and hanging on to me so they wouldn’t lose me. Jonathan entering a scary hallway with mirrors on either side, and a creepy dude standing in the middle, with what looked like black bounce house pillows on either side, taking a step back and jumping in to dive on the pillows only to realize that it was an illusion and hitting the floor with a resounding thud. T.J. and Austin grabbing him immediately and pulling him back as the creepy dude descended on him, and all of us screaming and trying to fight our way around him.
Finally we came out on the other side of the forest, to what we thought was relative safety. T.J. and Austin were ahead of us, Jonathan helping me across the bridge because I couldn’t see where I was going, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, appears a zombie-looking dude with a chainsaw. Scared the living daylights out of Jonathan who attempted to drag me around to the right away from him, and when he followed and went after Jonathan, he let go of my hand, screamed, and ran faster than a gazelle being chased by a cheetah, out of the forest and up the hill where T.J. and Austin were waiting and laughing like crazy. I just looked at zombie dude and walked past him to join the others. You don’t want to mess with this momma, zombie man.
The After Party
Once we all managed to gather our wits about us, we realized we had plenty of time left before I needed to pick up Tre and his friends from Studio, so we headed out in search of a Burger King to satisfy our munchies. As we got into the car, all three of the boys thanked me for such a great time, another warm and fuzzy mom moment for me. The boys plugged in their phones, I hit the road, and we did a bit of head banging along the way till we found a Burger King.
I should have seen it coming, the minute we walked in to the restaurant and all of those lovely crowns were lined up in a row. Each of the boys grabbed one and put it on, hamming it up and being the king. I laughed like I was a teenager again, and I think it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.
We took the long way home, listening to more music, the boys yelling “I love you! You’re awesome!” to random people on Broad Street, making silly faces at people in the cars next to us at red lights that had them laughing hysterically, driving through “the hood” and then finally arriving home around 10pm.
It was an amazing evening, loaded with laughter and fun, but what made the night truly memorable is when my dear son said to me, in front of his friends, “I love you Mom. You’re the best!” and they agreed with him.
I could not have asked for a more perfect evening. I love you too, son. I love you too.