Temporary Empty Nest Syndrome

Seems like over the last 4–6 months, my 10 year old son and I have entered that pre-adolescent phase of our Father-Son relationship wherein we spend a lot more time butting heads than we used to when he was a little tyke and he was still under the mistaken impression that I walked on water.  (In hindsight, it’s terrifically surprising that his Mother didn’t cure him of this notion before he cleared the nursing stage, but I digress…..)

Of course anyone who’s ever watched one of John Hughes 80’s films knows that despite our best intentions as parents, this is just the natural evolution of things.  Part of letting our children grow up means letting them make decisions on their own and very often those decisions aren’t the ones WE would make for them if we had the option to keep them in suspended animation as 3 year olds for the rest of their lives.

But of course, 3 ain’t 10, and 10 definitely ain’t 3.  Hence the head-butting over everything from chores to homework to bed-time to choice of clothing.  (“No you cannot wear shorts and flip flops to school, it’s 40 degrees outside, and no I don’t care if half your friends are wearing shorts and flip-flops to school…”)

I understand that this is just a harbinger of the teen years to come, but I already find myself struggling with the transition from “greatest Dad in the world!” to “I’d honestly rather go play with my friends, Dad”.

It’s the parental equivalent of the bends.

It’s father-child whiplash.

It’s like I’m living in a damn Harry Chapin song all of a sudden.

The little man left this morning for an overnight school field trip and before he got on the bus Anne asked him if he wanted to call me to say goodbye since I was already at work.

He said, “No, I don’t think I better.  I’m really going to miss Dad a lot while I’m gone and I don’t want to cry in front of all my friends.  But give this note to him for me.”

Purple marker.

Arrows.

Wonderfully sloppy 10 year old handwriting.

Dad, I love you.  I’ll miss you. Evan.”

It’s a good thing I was by myself when I read his note.

I’d hate to cry in front of all my friends.

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