I've reached the point in the mother arc where Eldest has mostly stopped talking to me.
There is a constant flow of information: where his soccer game is, which movie he and his friends want to go to, what kind of shoes he needs for camp. The list goes on and on, but when he recently returned from a five day sojourn, and I asked how did it go, he turned to me and said "Good." Then he walked back to his bedroom and closed the door.
Ever persistent, I followed him to his room and knocked lightly on the door before entering. "So do you want to go back?" I asked.
"Yes!" he nodded, if not enthusiastically then at least with force.
"Would you go back right now if you could?" I asked.
"No," he said. "I'm exhausted."
My inner life coach cheered that he was able to recognize what his body needed while I waited to see if he would tell me more.
Did he meet a girl he liked? Did he perform in the Talent Show?
Did he figure out if he believed in God?
"Cool," I said and walked back to the kitchen to finish the dishes.
I have done my job, I told myself, sudsy hands furiously scrubbing. The silence means I've done my job.
This is the litany of a teen parent. Grouchy, grumpy, not wanting to talk about it is the new norm.
He's developing his own sense of self. This is important work.
I have been accused of being 'too much' more than once in my life: too loud, too direct, too bossy. And for the most part, I'm unapologetic about those monikers. They mean I'm doing the work of a good feminist in today's too polite society. Civility has ever been about controlling the voices of women. But when it comes to Eldest, I am working on sitting down and shutting up, at least for now, because he deserves to have privacy. My son deserves to have an interior room of his own.
So I did not go back and knock on his door. I finished the dishes and went back to work on my novel.
I share this to remind myself. And if you're the parent of a teen, I share it to remind you: sometimes rejection is right on target.
Coranna Adams is a writer, filmmaker, and educator from Asheville, North Carolina.