“Hi dad. How was your day?” He said as I walked through the door.
I dropped my bag with a loud CLANG. My first instinct was to rush forward, take the little imposter by the throat and spread his legs against the wall, demanding to know where my beloved Son was being held hostage. Fortunately I kept my cool for a second and remembered that we are getting these chirpy greetings more often. And we like it. So maybe we should just accept this person who is using Son’s body.
You see, the oddity of his behaviour is based on the fact that, listening to other parents of teenagers, he should only growl. He should act like a wounded animal, hiding away in the dark. Only coming out to feed on the raw meat we throw at him, and hope he doesn’t bite your head or arm off in the process. But Son is proving the theory wrong. He actually formed a personality.
Please don’t misinterpret my comments as complaints. To the contrary. It’s just that I’m somewhat confused. It was supposed to be difficult. It was suppose to be confrontational. It was suppose to consists of ample tantrums. There was suppose to be tears. And then there was Son’s emotions too. Now I get this? An engaging, selfless, hilarious, intelligent being, occupying the body where the teenager was suppose to be…
And things are happening, it’s not like he forgot to develop. T-shirts are constantly being replaced to cover his widening shoulders. Giggles are turning into naughty glimpses when ever someone says: “Boobs”. And his view of girls have morphed from annoying creatures resembling his sister, to conquests with vigour. We’re still waiting for the deep voice to kick in, but he does hit a few high notes every now and then.
Our biggest amazement is the old kid/young man he is turning out to be. Don’t get me wrong, I know we’re great parents, but it has taken 10 years of coaching and threatening in order for them to just greet properly. We understood the importance of ensuring specific fundamentals to kick in prior to him reaching 13. Because after that, we were told, everything is lost in the next 4 dark years of a teenagers’ life. So some things did sink in, albeit slowly, like a giraffe stuck in quicksand, but in the end it did.
So here’s a sample of phone conversation we had a year ago:
Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring.
“Hi, Son. Why did you take so long to answer the phone?”
“With what? Homework?”
“Yeah. Wanna speak to Mom?”
“I guess so.”
“Moooooommmm, it’s Dad.”
After these attempts at conversations, I understood how a pet feels when his family leaves on holiday or what the real meaning is of this… 😦 or if you’re still unsure, it made me feel like this…
But alas, these days our conversations are like episodes from the Twilight Zone. Judge for yourself.
“Hello, it’s Son speaking.”
Because I had to check the number, for the voice was upbeat and quirky.
“Wow, hello Dude. How was school?” I call him dude for I’m the cool parent.
“Ah…average I would say. Nothing spectacular happened, unless you count Mr Smith* losing it again in class today.” (*name changed to protect the innocent)
I didn’t expect anything resembling a report, so I was struck with silence for a few seconds. I did manage to reply without crying.
“He normally loses it once a day. Who was the victim of his latest scream fest?” I asked cautiously, for this was virgin territory.
“It was Angie, she forgot her homework. He doesn’t seem to get much love at home.” Son giggles at his own joke.
I turned into my alter ego, Dumbfounded Dad, the awkward superhero with the amazing ability to dislodge his bottom jaw everytime he’s surprised. And we were having a conversation. On the phone! I was as happy and kiddy and, well just like her…
Then he blew me away with the words: “How’s your day?”
I suddenly knew how Edison felt when his first light bulb worked. It would be stating the obvious to note that the phone was lying on the floor as I lost my grip and was looking frantically for those damn hidden cameras.
“Pretty average, just normal work stuff happening.” What was I suppose to say?
“Are you blogging?”
It was becoming ridiculous. I already had the yellow pages with my free hand, flicking hastily through the book to find an Exorcizing helpline. Who is this person speaking to me? He’s suppose to be crazy and hormonal and incoherent and…you know a teenager.
I retained some composure and managed a reply. “No Dude, I work.”
He laughs. Like a normal person. Like a friend. Or an adult. Or a kid that’s growing up too quickly. Someone who I cherish more than life itself.
“Yes dad. Right dad. I’ll tell Mom you work.”
“Nice chatting to you Dude. See you soon.”
“Ok dad. See ya later.”
It was only after my happy dance, sitting back, that I realized I forgot to speak to my wife, which was the reason for the phone call in the first place. But having Son on the phone, with an engaging conversation, joking about things happening in my life…well, that beats any discussion about prospective dinner plans with the in-laws. Hands down.
PS – Isn’t it great being a dad?