If there’s one thing I can count on from 17-year old Pockets, it’s brutal honesty. This is the kid who, as a kindergartener, told me, “Mom, it kind of freaks me out when you dress us in matching Star Wars shirts.”
He may have had a point, there.
I was 19 when I birthed this amazing human being. I grew up alongside him, ditching all the parenting books I collected before he was born, and letting my child lead me in what I called the Great Motherhood Experiment: All honesty, all the time.
Pockets knew what was up with the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy. I sometimes wondered if the naysayers were right to suggest I was murdering the magic of childhood and hindering his imagination, but I reclaimed my confidence as he developed a rich love of fantasy and spun impossibly intricate tales of other worlds.
He was a four-year old with a middle school vocabulary. I fought for his early entry to kindergarten, an act that made me—young, with pink hair and body piercings—a “weird and defiant” parent in the estimation of our small conservative school district.
A year younger than his peers, Pockets’s frankness, coupled with appropriate use of words like “ambivalent” (as in “Ms. Kindergarten Teacher, I feel ambivalent about circle time today.”) made for interesting parent-teacher conferences.
From birth, Pockets was raised vegetarian, and broke my heart and tickled my funny bone in equal parts when, at six, he announced, “I’m going to be a ‘Jello and chicken nuggets’ sort of vegetarian.” That “sort” of vegetarianism soon allowed for pepperoni pizza, cheeseburgers…
He’s the first to point out, “Mom, no one says that anymore,” when I use what I think is a hip phrase, or to admit, “I’d rather not,” when I propose what I think is an awesome family activity. I always know where I stand with Pockets, even as my Great Motherhood Experiment nears the 18-year mark.
Last week, he delivered his senior presentation to a faculty panel, like a boss (a phrase he tolerates me using). During his discussion on plans for the future, he explained, “I have a gift for writing, and I’m very interested in computers and technology. I plan to pursue a career which will allow me to combine these passions,” to approving nods.
“If all else fails,” he shrugged, “I guess I’ll become a teacher.”
Silence fell over the room as the audience considered whether he was joking. Finally, a slow laughter broke out, and one teacher said, “Well, you’re certainly honest! That will take you far in life.”
From my front row seat, I thought, I know, right? Then I remembered no one says that anymore, and settled for, I couldn’t be prouder of the man you’ve become, Pockets. Thank you for making the Great Motherhood Experiment the greatest undertaking of my life.
Had he heard me, he would have pointed out how sappy it sounded. I wouldn’t have cared.