He's my third-born child, my second-born son, my youngest…my baby boy.
When he was born he was blue from crown to sole, and, delirious I declared, "He's a Smurf!" Today he's nothing but bronze and outdoors.
His love language is touch and when he was younger that looked much different than it does at 16. Now, presence means what sitting in your lap did when he was four.
He also has this compulsive Need To Know, a thousand questions, maybe more. When I say I don't know he'll ask again another way, thinking he's tricked me into suddenly knowing. Undaunted, persistant, determined, he'll keep asking until my voice shrills, usually by the third iteration.
He's six feet of cheer and he can't stay mad, even when he tries. With a big brother who's used him as a punching bag since birth, he has good reason to try, but that usually lasts all of five minutes and then happy-go-lucky returns. He just can't help himself.
I think that's a glorious Super Power.
* * *
For three weeks he's 8,500 miles from home and my house has grown a little dimmer.
Part of that time he'll be an adventurer, an explorer, a discoverer; most of the time he'll be a server, a lover of people, a giver. All of the time he'll be a Light Bringer and a World Changer–it's both his nature and the reason he's there.
My heart is beating somewhere in South Africa, winding the trails of Cape Town, then venturing to a small town to cross culture…and eventually to bring the culture the Cross.
I knew before he left we wouldn't be talking often; that despite the wondrous technology available to modern world travelers, calling home isn't his priority and accessibility is limited. I set my expectation low.
He leaves on Monday night and chases daylight. At 2:45 am on Tuesday, I wake up and reach for my phone, squinting though sleepy eyes at the tiny screen to track his flight. He's 30,000 feet above the ocean–has been for hours and will be for more. When I wake up, I check again and I finally exhale when I see they've landed around 11:00.
Flight time might say 15 hours, but it ticks slower than molaseas when it's your baby up there without you.
I get a text that tells me they're there but it's his father who gets that first call. I carried the boy for nine months INSIDE MY BODY and even if I birthed him as a Smurf, HE CALLS MY HUSBAND FIRST? I exhale again and let that one go.
The next day I'm running errands, the in-and-out kind that take no time and yet all day. It's after leaving the post office I notice three missed calls on my phone. An odd phone number I didn't recognize until it hits me IT'S OUR SKYPE NUMBER AND I JUST MISSED MY BABY!
The thing with a Skype number is whatever shows up on your phone isn't the actual number assigned to you. To make a long, confusing story short, my iPhone still has a German SIM card; I only use it when I have wifi but it's the phone I have Skype on. I'm 15 minutes from home and I know it's LATE where he is and he won't be up much longer–I don't want wifi, I NEED it.
And then it hits me. I have wifi.
I'm still demo-ing my Blackberry, and from it I can open a mobile hotspot. So, OF COURSE, I open a mobile hotspot and log in to Skype. I'm able to talk to my son who's 8,500 miles from home. In that moment no one could convince me Verizon didn't hang Jupiter and Mars and I resist the urge to kiss my phone.
* * *
The next time he calls, he crowns me in glory:
"Hey, mom, I almost forgot, I saw a rainbow today–"
He was the one who discovered the spectacular, miraculous baby rainbow in our front yard and he knows I thrill to their sight. I imagine he must've seen the most beautiful rainbow ever, for him to remember to tell me.
Then the ungrateful mongrel decides to slay his mother…
"…it reminded me of you."
Stick a fork in me.
p.s. He's proud to represent the good ol' US of A by sporting his 'mericas Chubbies Shorts–he's hoping they notice the effort. For fun, click the link and you'll find one of the funnest (most unexpected for parents over 40) fashion trends among the teen/college set!