My son’s allergy doctor has a really lovely bedside manner. He spends lots of time, maybe even too much, on pleasantries such as how the family is doing and how everything is going. He always remembers that No. 3 plays basketball and asks him about that.
So I was quite taken aback on our most recent visit when the doctor outright sucker punched me.
Smack. In the gut.
OK, so technically it wasn’t a literal punch, but it might as well have been since it completely knocked the wind out of me.
He started talking about No. 3’s test results — when you are allergic to the world and require regular shots, one thing allergy docs do is test regularly to see if you might possibly be outgrowing any sensitivities, which means fewer or no shots — and the doc was commenting on how No. 3 had gotten better with several allergens BUT (seems like there is always a but with a doctor, especially if you’re visiting a proctologist — HA!) he would still need to continue with shots for the next three years (that was the windup) and so did No. 3 know (here comes the punch!) where he was going to college?
MY BABY IS GOING TO LEAVE ME!!!!
Like that, I checked out of the conversation and could only think about how my youngest child was just one, wee, little, single-digit year away from college and all its amazing, independent, far-away-from-his-mom adventures. Tell me, how is it even possible that this parenting nonsense doesn’t get even the slightest bit easier by round three?
I mean, some would argue that it does because when they head off to college, then your kid is, well, potty-trained, and out of the house and you get all your free time, but definitely not your money, back. But I have spent the past decade-plus becoming quite accustomed to having children all up in my air space who need food and attention and fresh laundry and nagging and I’m not ready for that to be done on a summers-only basis. I AM NOT READY. NOT BY A LONG SHOT.
How are we just supposed to undo years of reprogramming? We adjusted to never going to the bathroom alone or having any free time of our own. My children have also generously helped me realize — and I have also come to accept — that I truly know nothing about anything. I mean, how can I survive without a teenager around telling me how the world really works?
If I stop and think about it, which I really don’t want to because this is very sad and I prefer to ostrich my feelings, then I would see and realize that really, once he scored that driver’s license, he was already gone. The world was and is his to explore — and his parents just need to pony up for gas.
He has basketball five or six nights a week and lots of friends to hang with and when he is home, he divides his time evenly between the bathroom and his room. Honestly, it’s really not especially rewarding to have a teenage boy in the house, but I do very much enjoy when he is around. When he graces us with his presence and four stomachs at dinner, it makes me so happy. I love hearing his animated stories about pickup basketball and funny things that happened at school. When his oldest sister is home from college and he sticks around to watch movies and play games, I love it even more. It doesn’t even bother me that the kids gang up and mock me for all my maternal transgressions. I just love to hear them laugh maniacally together — even at my expense.
I wonder what the odds are that I could con our allergy doc into writing a prescription that No. 3 can’t go to college more than 50 miles from his home? I mean, he does owe me after that gut punch.