“…and there’s stuff I want to talk to you about but we’re always in public and everyone’s around and I can’t talk to you,” confessed my eight-year-old son and my heart sunk.
I dream-sequenced back to when at the tender age of five, he expressed to me that he wasn’t getting any respect. Because it was bedtime, I wrote it off as a stall tactic, but upon further investigation, turns out he wasn’t completely wrong and in that moment, by not hearing his heart, I had failed him.
Fast forward three years and I was having a deja vu moment.
You have to understand – a request from Ellis for alone time is common and since he has no affect, missing his emotions can happen easily. But with that singular loaded statement, “I can’t talk to you”, I internally lamented the obviously unmanageable volume of heart-wrenching topics that he wanted – nay, needed to talk to me about, and that since we hadn’t done so, I was failing him yet again.
But this was my fresh start. This was the dawn of our evening walks and talks in which he would pour out his little heart to me – his rock, his confidant, his momma. I swallowed the lump in my throat and braced myself. “Well, that’s why we’re doing this, Buddy. It’s just me and you out for our walk. We can talk about whatever you want to talk about. So whatcha got?”
“Okay. If you had a flying car, what would it run on – Slushee or smoothie?”
And so began the first of what I hope to be many evening walks between my son and me.
We left our home, which is the third one on our block, and headed toward the corner and before we got there, I heard him exclaim, “I love this walk” two times and then two more as we crossed the street. His excitement was contagious. I asked him how far he wanted to walk: a quarter-mile, a half-mile, advising him that no matter what distance he chose, we’d have to double it because we would be walking back, as well.
“Do you want to go to MLK?”
“What about that school up there with the playground?”
“Oh, sure, we can do that!”
And so we did. It was a warm spring evening, and he had donned a light sweater. Not sure, I asked if he had the sweater on in the house or if he had just put it on for our walk. “I just put it on for our walk. It looked like sweater weather to me. I love this walk.”
My husband and I regularly relish in the fact that our son is unintentionally overflowing with entertaining quips, so priming the pump is not necessary. One needs to only make him aware that questions need his answers – and he readily supplies them.
His thoughts on seeing a deer: *gasp* “Is that a deer? Mooom, that’s not a real deer. Fun fact: I’ve never seen a real deer before. Just kidding. Yes, I have.”
His BFF’s mom and I planned a surprise Zoom meeting for our sons. When I asked him if he enjoyed the surprise: “I conveniently just said that I barely ever see him and then I saw him!”
On plans for the future: “When Coronavirus ends, I say we go to Italy and take a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and make it look like I’m holding it up. And Reese can have a turn, too.”
His feelings about me protecting him from the cross traffic of oncoming cars: “I’d be furious with them if they hit ya.”
We had returned home on the evening of our first walk. My favorite son has on his jammers and it is now bedtime. He just walked into my bedroom, gave me some sugar and asked, “Guess how many friends I have?” “How many?” “If I count Reese, 34. Goodnight.”
Oh, and for the record, we agreed that smoothies would be the better source of fuel for our flying cars. Slushees are just ice, sugar, and syrup flavoring (he can’t pick a fave between Orange and Blue Raspberry), whereas smoothies have fresh fruit, healthy fats, and are organic, and that’s good for everything, according to Ellis.