My thirteen year old son is going through that phase where he hates having his photo taken. Virtually every photo I take of him features the back of his head. Or his hand in front of his face. Or a book. I tease him that when grows up he is going to wonder if he even existed at all during his thirteenth year. Or wonder if perhaps that was the year we kept him tethered to the basement water pipes.

Today I was taking photos when he unceremoniously informed me that he no longer wants me to write anything about things he does. Or doesn’t do. Or photograph him. Or show other people the photos that I do manage to get of him. I should just pretend that he doesn’t exist.

He probably wouldn’t want me to tell you that today I let him go into the grocery store all alone to buy a few things. it isn’t that he has been itching to do this. It has never really come up before, but today we were running errands and I needed to go to the store next to the grocery store so I asked him if he wanted to go in alone.

He definitely wouldn’t want me to tell you that as he walked away I shouted, “Don’t let anyone kidnap you now!” When he found me a little while later in the neighboring store he seemed to walk taller. Some imperceptible change had happened and suddenly I could see the future.

As we were driving home, his seven year old brother in the back seat decided to count. With each number he got louder and more enthusiastic. My 13 year old son looked over at me and said, “My god that is the most annoying thing.” I agreed, but instead of saying anything I reached over and turned the radio off.

“No sense in competing. We may as well embrace the counting.” I laughed.

“Doesn’t that annoy you?” he asked.

Rather than answer, I reminded him of a time when he was about the same age and he decided to count by tens all the way home from his aunt’s house. A house that is over an hour away from us.

“I remember that!” he said.

“Do you?” I asked, in between the shouts of FIRTY-FIVE… FIRTY-SIX… FIRTY-SEVEN…

“Yes. I don’t remember it being so annoying though.” He laughed.

Of course you don’t, I wanted to say.

And so if I don’t mention this son anymore it isn’t because I don’t have things to say about him. I do. It isn’t that I don’t love him. Because man, do I love this child young man. I am proud of who he is growing up to be. I am fairly confident these days that he won’t grow up to be a career criminal, a serial killer, or a Republican. Oh I kid. I just threw that last one in there for my husband. Some of my best friends are Republicans.

Sometimes being a parent means keeping your mouth shut and embracing the moment silently. Not matter how annoying it might be.

The Boy Who Ceased to Exist

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