In two weeks, my youngest stepson is graduating from high school. I feel Jurassic. This is the kid that was 9 when his dad and I married. I amused myself with the idea of people exclaiming, “You can’t possibly have a 9-year-old!” The truth was, I could easily have had a 9-year-old at that time; and a 12-year-old. Which is good, because that’s what I got. Full time 24×7 motherhood to a couple of boys who had little recent experience living with a woman. Especially a demanding, impatient woman with high expectations and a zero tolerance policy.
Poor things. I think we all suffered culture shock, and I’m not sure we ever got over it. But somehow we all muddled through. His older brother, Derek, is at Missouri, finishing his sophomore year. That brilliant “only for special occasions” brain is finally seeing daylight. He’s going to knock their socks off.
Austin thinks he’ll stick around next year and attend community college to get some basics completed. His father and I are not complaining. I never imagined myself suffering from empty-nest syndrome. Frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t been counting the days in anticipation of a house that has no dishes in the sink, no cabinet doors left open, and my sodas still in the fridge when I want one.
Instead, I remember those little boys on the wedding day in their tuxes. Their dad’s best men. I remember how Austin turned green and nearly fainted during the ceremony. (I TOLD him not to lock his knees.) I think about the times I forced them to watch old movies with me, or listen to my running commentary during the Academy Awards. School concerts and sporting events. Meetings with principals (too many) and teachers (way too many). Then there were the groundings, celebratory dinners and funerals.
It’s been a busy 8 years. So busy, in fact, I probably haven’t told them I think they’re amazing.
Best men, indeed.
This whole post may be in bad taste. That said, I was on the phone with my mother yesterday and she was telling me a friend’s daughter had been diagnosed with some sort of mini-seizures. Apparently, the child may have had them for years but no one noticed until recently. From somewhere in the recesses of my brain I supplied the name of the condition. Petit mal seizures. Mom was impressed. So was I. Good news! My brain is not as pickled as I thought.
I googled “petit mal seizure” and read through the symptoms. Eureka! It is very possible my stepsons have had this problem all along, and I too, missed it. (Lord knows I tested them for everything else – ADD, ADHD, autism, depression, dyslexia…) The diagnosis came back the same every time: They’re boys.
I am only half-joking when I say the symptoms could easily be attributed to either of my “steps” AND to most teenagers of my acquaintance.
1. The person stops walking or talking mid-sentence. (I always thought they just lost interest.)
2. Hand fumbling. (Don’t get me started.)
3. Fluttering eyelids. (That’s usually the “tell” that they’re conscious.)
4. Lip smacking. (Only after eating cookies.)
5. Chewing. (I assume this is without food involved, so that’s a no.)
6. Staring episodes. (Both these kids space out all the time. I think they are either sleeping with their eyes open, or imagining what their lives will be like once we are dead and they inherit all our flat screens.)
7. Lack of awareness. ( They have both been unaware that sound travels since I first met them. Unaware that they are blocking the TV when standing 6 inches in front of it, and unaware that the refrigerator door does not close itself behind them.)
8. Sudden halt in conscious activity. (One of the boys once left the car parked and running, with the door hanging wide open for several hours until a neighbor called to let us know.)
I will hold out hope they will be miraculously cured upon reaching their mid to late 20s. But I’m not placing any bets. Their father still exhibits symptoms 1, 6 and 8.
Symptoms description from MedlinePlus.