These Boys

These teenage boys, full of inertia and sullenness, the ones who say to me, “you suck,” the ones who leave their dishes in their rooms until we no longer have bowls or glasses or silverware; the ones who make off with the charging cord for my phone; who clean the bathroom poorly and forget to walk the dog. The ones who leave wet towels in heaps on my bathroom floor and who insist on using my shower instead of theirs. The ones who manage to “hang” towels in a wad on the towel rack.

Yes, these are the ones I wish I could still pull onto my lap and read a story to. The ones who just yesterday were small enough to scoop up and hold propped on a hip. The ones who slipped their hands into mine.

These boys—I forgot to look at their faces today. I forgot to look at their hearts. I forgot to see beyond the dirty sheets, the piles of big shoes by the door, the unswept cat litter on the bathroom floor, the piles of soda cans and bottles on their desks and bedroom floors. I forgot, amidst the daily frustrations and annoyances, what this is all about, how this all started.

Because these are also the boys who who thoughtfully offer to make me a cup of tea and go to Target later because my stomach hurts. The ones who cherish the kitten and say to me, “Mama, look how sweet she is.” Who say, “How was your day?” and “How did you sleep?”

These are the boys whose laughs I love, who taught me how to appreciate boy humor in all it’s crassness and cynicism, who introduce me to new music every day.

These are the boys who guide me into the 21st century. Who keep me from getting old. Who don’t allow me to turn away from modern technology, who challenge my thinking.

These are the boys who, even as teenagers, will occasionally crawl into our bed and ask for a back rub. These are the boys who, when I don’t hear their “Mom!” shout “Chris!”

These boys. Tender, harsh, angry, sweet.

These boys.

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