Any semi-decent writer relies on strong sources to enhance the viewpoint of the content. For me, one of my strongest driving forces happens to be my youngest offspring. When I first contemplated this midlife change, I shared the news with one of the two most impacted individuals. Once the news and the reality of the endeavor sank into his conscious, I tapped his thoughts about the experience and made him the first interviewee to impart his perspective into my hard right turn. Following an excursion to Acadia National Park, a remarkable teenager shared his opinions, his humor, and his truths about my upcoming life over the road.
His first word of advice that he jokingly offers, “Protection, protection, protection.” Retracting his suggestion as his default advice to fellow high school students, albeit not something most parents of teenagers hope to hear from their children, I appreciate that some messages did get through the hard teenage exterior. With a grain of seriousness, he contemplates the pitfalls of severe weather and cautions me to avoid ice, but resumes his self-focused recommendations and instructs me to bring him hats from around the country as I journey. “Hats and bobbles.” I doubt he realizes the amount of time I will have to souvenir shop between loads.
I have never been a conventional parent. Yes, I required my sons to complete homework, to refrain from applying too much pressure to my “grammar nerve, “ and to be respectful of and open to the differences of others. Two out of three are not bad odds. I shouldn’t be surprised then when my son offers advice that sounds insightful and wise, even for a typical teenager. “Remember when you’re out there driving that you want to be out there. This is not a job; it is what you chose to do.” Dang, when did he get to be so subtly brilliant?
I know I will miss his brutal frankness, his genuine hugs, and his mutual appreciation of Gilmore Girls. Skype, texting, and even simple phone calls cannot replace the togetherness we enjoy at Acadia, at home, or at the pub where we first discussed the idea of my becoming a truck driver. When I ask him what he might miss most about my departure, I hope he might say something kind and adorable about his Mom, but instead he uses words that might not necessarily be appealing to the average parent, but since neither of us even remotely fit into the “average” category, it sums up the relationship we have built and that we will keep regardless of how far away I may drive. “I’ll miss most the kind of relationship we’ve had because for the last couple years you haven’t been like my mother; you’ve been like my bat-shit crazy older sister.” Yep, that’s my son. Damn, I’m lucky!