My boy celebrated his seventeenth birthday a couple of nights ago, and it felt unlike other birthdays. Seventeen seems much greater than sixteen. It feels much farther away from home.
He surprised me by foregoing the recent tradition of eating out at a reasonable restaurant of his choice. For seventeen, he wanted simply to follow a good evening of kung fu training with a pineapple upside down cake. I asked as we were leaving school if his training had been satisfying, and he told me with a smile how many forms he’d done and how achy he was feeling. He was happy.
“You know we’re crazy to think that serious achiness is a good thing,” I told him.
“Yep, I know.” His smile was even broader.
On the way home from training a few days earlier, probably under the influence of too much Gatorade, I told my high school junior, “Why don’t you forget about college and start a kung fu school with me?” He looked at me as if an alien had taken over my body.
“Forget college? You are suggesting that I forget college?”
“Yeah, I can’t believe I said that, too. Never mind. Crank call,” I answered with both of us laughing.
Looking past the cake to the face of the baby boy turned young man, I remembered my so-called crank call. And I was no longer sure any part of me had been kidding.