As soon as he gets in the car, I ask if he feels like a frappuccino. Of course he does…a large one. As I confessed in another post, Starbucks owns me. And although I am always very eager to treat the boys to whatever favorite drinks and desserts, today I also have a hidden agenda: I need an excuse to buy another ice mocha for myself, and I feel too guilty to indulge alone. It works out beautifully that my teenager loves coffee drinks too.
We order two ventis at the drive-through: his with extra caramel sauce, mine with five pumps of mocha and no whip. Mine comes out first. I taste it and it’s perfect. One of those days.
A few minutes later we’re back home, and mocha in hand, I rush to finish writing before I have to pick up the little one. He has cross country training after school today, so I have a bit of time to spare. I’m frustrated, with two pages of text still left to edit. Some days even a second mocha doesn’t seem to help.
I jump. He’s behind me, my handsome teenager, frappuccino in hand, walking to pet one of our cats who sleeps by the door to the backyard.
“What happened?” I ask.
“Oh nothing, just feel like talking” he answers, and sits on the bed behind my desk.
As annoyed as I am at the interruption, having a 15 year old who wants to talk to mom about things, and lots of things at that, is pretty special. I’m thinking I did something well. We talk a lot these days, especially about life and relationships. He tells me what’s going on in his, I tell him about mine. He asks for advice. I ask for his thoughts and opinions on different issues. He is interested in my blog posts and listens when I read them out loud, a special treat for me. Had he not been my son, he would me my twin. Only he is much wiser in some ways than I am or was at his age.
Today we talk as usual about his day in school, friends, his girlfriend, plans for the weekend. We laugh, I tell him stories too. But most of all, I listen and I smile.
Because he’s happy and he smiles. And that makes me happy.
A month ago he met a girl he really likes, and who really likes him back. He tells me they hold hands a lot, and I see they text incessantly. They write the sweetest things to each other. She tells him how much she appreciates his manners and calls him a gentleman. He tells her she’s beautiful and talented. They both love to draw.
“So what are you working on?” he asks.
I explain about the current post, another one on everyone’s favorite difficult subject: relationships. I’m discussing happiness again, and what it involves. It’s very simple and yet as all simple things, so complicated to explain.
I’m looking to describe that essential balance between freedom and responsibility, emphasize the absolute need for creating a habit of affection that enhances emotional connection and intimacy. And beyond that, or perhaps at the core of everything, I talk about giving, the fact that we absolutely must often think of our partners first, look to do what we can with what we have…as opposed to thinking about what we can’t do and don’t have, and simply shut down. We all feel inadequate, none of us are perfect, all of us get overwhelmed at times. But all too often people underestimate the value of a simple smile, a thoughtful note, a call, time spent together just talking and doing something silly. Just being there and making the most out of everything that is available to us, however little it may seem at any given time, goes a loooong way to nurture love, trust, help people learn how to grow together and help each other through rough times. Just because we have certain goals in life (and at times overwhelming challenges to go with them) that doesn’t mean we stop living until everything is resolved, until we have all the answers and all the goals perfectly achieved.
As is my tendency, I get into lecture mode in certain spots, and waaay too emotional in others. Some bits are repetitive. I need to cut out a lot, and now that I’ve had that experience with my 8 year old’s wisdom on another post, I’m that much more careful of my writing getting too complicated and heavy.
“Want to read what I got so far?” I ask him.
He gets up and stands next to my desk, looking over my shoulder. I hate it when people do that, but this one time it’s ok.
“It’s pretty good” he tells me.
I point to one of the longer paragraphs and explain why I’m not happy with it.
“Yeah, maybe you should take some stuff out” he agrees. “But mom, you’re totally right in what you’re saying”.
It doesn’t get much better than to receive validation from your own child on something you write. I mean really, it’s pretty awesome…as my son would say.
He tells me he’s going to go rest for a bit. Big hug, big kiss, I love you’s exchanged. He leaves my room and I turn back to check the time. Barely 10 minutes left until I have to go pick up the little one from school. Damn, I won’t be finished with the post.
I turn and there he is again peeking in. He’s so tall, I swear if he grows any more he won’t fit through the door.
“Yeeees?” I smile at him.
“I wanted to tell you something else” he says and steps into the room. “It’s kinda like what you’re writing about”.
Oh no, if he’s as good as the 8 year old, I’ve so totally lost control of this blog.
“You know what the best thing really is? I mean…I’m happy that I have someone who likes me and who I like so much…but before we started going out, she went through some difficult times. And now she’s smiling again, and even her friends told me how she is back to her old self.”
“That’s wonderful” I tell him, not sure where he’s going with this.
“Yeah…it is.” He looks down and up at me again. “To know she is happy and I can make her smile …you know, because of me being there for her, and being nice to her…THAT makes me happiest.”
Yes, you guessed it, I’m tearing up on cue.
“That is the best happiness isn’t it baby?”
He nods, with a big smile from ear to ear. His beautiful brown eyes sparkle. I reach up for another hug.
And, my work is done. I delete the document on my screen, then pick up the car keys and rush to pick up the little one. And now I’m posting this. What else can I possibly add to explain the meaning of the best happiness?