Smartmom, Hepcat and the Oh So Feisty One got home from California last Thursday at 7 am. They’d taken the redeye from Oakland and Smartmom didn’t sleep a wink. Instead, she’d spent the entire night alternating between 36 free channels of DirectTV watching mostly the House and Garden channel and CNN.
Arriving home, she was exhausted — and nervous — about the state of the apartment after last week’s report of Teen Spirit’s raucous party. That’s why she told OSFO to go in first and report back.
“Everything is fine,” OSFO shouted down the stairs.
Phew. The apartment was tidy. All the dirty dishes had been put through the dishwasher and all the dirty clothing that Diaper Diva said she saw covering the hallway floor was in a big blue IKEA bag in Teen Spirit’s bedroom.
Later, Smartmom told Teen Spirit what Diaper Diva had said about the messy condition of the apartment. Naturally, he questioned her judgement.
“Well, you know how neat she is,” he said.
Indeed, Diaper Diva and Bro-in-law are compulsively neat. Not like the relatives over on Third Street who tend to be a bit more, er, creative in the housekeeping department.
Smartmom was thrilled to be with Teen Spirit again. And she felt like the time apart had done them a world of good. She had long talk with him about his job, his plans for the year and a little about what his friends are up to.
It was one of the best — and longest — conversations they’ve had in eons. He also played three new songs for her and she was overjoyed. They were so good, she wanted to cry. But she didn’t let on. Instead she looked down at her lap and took in the magic of his music.
Smartmom felt very lucky.
The two weeks that Smartmom, Hepcat and OSFO were in California were the first time Teen Spirit had ever stayed by himself in the apartment. It was kind of a learning experience. Sure, he did all the typical adolescent faux pas: he threw a party and caused a stir when a dozen beer cans got tossed from the fire escape.
But a lot of good things happened, too.
Teen Spirit decided that he wants to learn how to cook.
“I want to be like Dad, the way he has a whole bunch of specialties,” he told Smartmom.
He also realized that he needs to learn some of the basics likes how to boil eggs and rice. In general he needs to get better acquainted with the kitchen.
“I never found the can opener,” he told Smartmom. “I mean, you left me all those cans of baked beans, but I couldn’t find the opener.”
Male kitchen blindness strikes young.
Smartmom handed Teen Spirit three can openers that were in a utensils jar on the counter. But she felt bad that his bean craving had gone unmet.
Teen Spirit is learning about other important stuff, too, like, where to get a check cashed when you don’t have a bank account.
“These are life lessons,” Smartmom told him this morning when she showed him where sign to on the back of a check, his first paycheck.
“My dad always used to say, ‘Remember to write “for deposit only” on the back,’” Smartmom told her son.
After their conversation, Smartmom decided that this Gap Year University thing was going to be great. He thinks so, too. He told her that doesn’t feel ready for college and that when he’s ready, he’ll go.
In the meantime, he says, he may want to take a course in Roman history at one of the city community colleges.
Smartmom smiled inwardly. She knows it’s super important not to meddle and to give him plenty of space.
Room to grow. That’s what she’s going to give him. Plenty of room to grow.