Thursday, January 8, 2009

He Doesn't Want to Grow Up

Mr. Beaudreaux, my southern nickname for my D.C.-born son, dropped a bomb on me the other day.

"I don't ever want to grow up."

He said this with the careful nonchalance of a male new to his 15th year. I watched him, looking for all the wild feeling that kept him screaming for so much of his first year. My Daniel in the Lion's Den, who fell calm when strapped into a car seat, soaring through space in airplanes and cars. Lulled to stillness only by motion.

We were in the car, again, but he didn't return my gaze. "I just don't want to. I want to stay a kid."

I couldn't speak. Do we coddle, his dad and I? Is he so terrified of the world he doesn't want to go out and see it for himself? He's not really sheltered. He's always off playing sports, visiting somebody or another. We had to wait for him, our miracle child, and never left him behind. My husband's work trips paid for hotel rooms and tickets were bought with airline miles. I took this boy with me on a plane when he was 3 months old. He's been all over the United States, including the long trek to Hawaii. He and his dad sit around shouting out the states the boy has visited.

My siblings and I couldn't wait to move out of our parents' house. That pushed and motivated us to make something of ourselves. We never told our parents that. We weren't trying to make them proud, the truth is we were just trying to flee from them.

But now Mr. B. says he doesn't want to grow up. I've always pictured him charging out into the world chest thrown back, running away from us as fast as he could, from his dad's bossiness and my neurotic worries. But I don't know how to help him with the Peter Pan thing or even if I can. And that breaks my heart more than a little.

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