It all started one day when his bedroom door closed. It’s still closed. Every day. All day. And he’s in there – I know he’s in there, because I hear the faint sounds of Xbox drifting through the walls. Some days I see so little of him, I wonder if I would recognize him when he finally emerges.
He rushes off to school with the urgency of a doctor on call, because, he has to be on that bus. What is on that bus that is so important? Suddenly a ride to school is a concession only allowed when he turns off his alarm in the morning and oversleeps.
The contacts came first. One day he decided he had to have contacts now. Which secretly thrilled me – not that there’s anything wrong with glasses, but at the tender age of 4 he got his first pair and I felt so sad to see that his beautiful brown eyes with the enviably long lashes would now be forever contained behind them. I have been waiting for the day he would be old enough, and responsible enough, to make the choice.
Now that he has, there have been many a morning filled with the drama of uncooperative stupid contacts – intensified only by the deadline of the bus. I have learned to keep to myself and my coffee in the kitchen, and wait for the smoke to clear.
And GOD FORBID the hair isn’t right. O. M. G. The Hair. We have now reached the point of no return. It has become a separate entity, causing no small amount of fierce stomping about the house and preoccupation with styles and …. OMG it’s too long again!! And back to the haircutters we go, four weeks after the last cut. One time it was a mere two weeks, and he was complaining it just wasn’t right and we HAD to go back. I asked him if he had the twenty bucks it was going to cost me. I’m sorry guys – but I have never understood how a guy with hair no more than an inch long can have a bad hair day. It doesn’t move.
Before all of that though – there was a day several months ago that came from out of nowhere – where he woke up and decided to “clean up” his room. Now I was excited, since 7th grade saw this phenomenon infect my son’s bedroom. I don’t even think it has a name, but we all know it. Some of us might remember it ourselves. It’s like a clothing volcano erupted inside this one room, its explosions leaving casualties on every surface, and seeping out from under the bed.
Anyway, this “clean up” was really a purge. He was in there all day and when he was done – 4 totes filled with Legos (really, this kid has easily acquired $1000 worth of Legos in his short life) and miscellaneous toys of youth were standing outside his door. Like a criminal trying to trump the investigator, he was systematically getting rid of all the evidence of his previous life.
Meanwhile, the room has taken on the distinct smell of BOY – hard to describe but instantly recognizable by anyone unlucky enough to have lived in a dorm. It’s not bad. But it’s… it’s… boy. But that is nothing compared to the piles of clothes that have yet to see the inside of a closet or drawer. But the drawers remain perpetually open – I assume because it’s easier? I have to at least give him credit for separating clean from dirty – clean on the desk/chair/bed, dirty on the floor.
And apparently the culture-growing gene is hereditary because he has taken on my own teenage hobby of leaving used dishes and cups strewn about his room for days until I have to come knocking for a bowl to eat my cereal in. Last weekend – while he was away at his dad’s – I went in there. I wanted to change his sheets (since it’s not worth the trouble when he’s home and barricaded in there) and counted 4 bowls, 2 mugs, 3 glasses and 3 empty soda cans. We will run out of dishes if he keeps this habit up.
His music tastes have changed. It started subtly, with an Eminem song here and there, and suddenly morphed into Rap fever. Tupac, Biggie, Naz… are whispering tales of the 'hood in my son’s ears… and he is absorbing the lyrics and spitting them out in sudden bursts as he passes through the kitchen, or as he’s entering my room to say goodnight. Am I concerned? Not too much – since he is still sharing with me. He runs songs by me to see if they’re acceptable to add to his iPod, and he often plays his favorites for me on the kitchen computer. I’m appeased to know I am not only mom, but that I am trusted.
Fashion has changed. Not to hip hop – though he bought himself a newsboy cap (like Biggie) – but to Sport Dude. It was an Under Armour Christmas. Now my lawyer will know why his check was late. And with the Sport Dude comes the sports. Basketball.
Personal appearance has taken on a new priority second only to good grades. He suffers the typical breakouts of his kind, but lacks the motivation to be proactive and so is often seen with smears of Spot On – which I have to remind him he just might want to wash off before we leave. He’s been shaving the fine dark hair on his upper lip for over a year now, but I have seen perplexing little hair clippings around their bathroom. He has lots of leg hair and, claiming to be the only one who does, has requested to shave it off. I’d say that was the highlight of my week – The Leg Shave – with the rap tunes going and the chemical smell of Veet in the air.
But, like the signature on the dotted line, the last step in this transformation is what seals the teenage-boy deal. Like Pig Pen’s stink cloud, the sweet smell of Axe follows him. Sometimes it’s the only way I can tell he’s been here. Sigh.