Monday, July 23, 2007

More Than I Could Have Asked For

Our twenty-year-old son was home for the weekend. This fall he will begin his college senior year, and he has decided to stay in the metropolitan area for the summer, working an on-campus summer job, so we see him less frequently than we have in summers past. While he was home last summer it was a generally miserable experience for him and for us. We had just moved to a new community where he knew no one, working a job (for us, actually) that he didn't particularly like, so his moods ranged from very crabby to only slightly crabby for the three months he was home. As much as I love Kyle and enjoy having him around, I wondered whether he might make a better guest than resident. I guess there is some truth to that, because his visit this weekend was actually quite pleasant.

I had a meeting in the metro area on Friday night, so I was able to pick him up (Kyle does not have a car) after my meeting and we drove home together, enjoying a spirited conversation we both enjoyed. By the time we got home Friday night it was too late to do much, so Kyle rented a couple of DVDs and we didn't see him until Saturday morning, when he worked a few hours for us PCA'ing one of his brothers. Early Saturday morning before anyone else was awake Tony (our twelve-year-old) and I decided to treat the family to donuts for breakfast (nutritional concerns aside), and as we were picking up our breakfast items noticed that the new Harry Potter book, released at midnight the night before was on sale at our grocery store. On the way home the night before Kyle uttered with regret, "Dang. And I won't be home [his place] tonight to get my Harry Potter book, but I asked a friend to pick it up for me." Weeks ago Kyle had purchased in advance his copy of the book in a metro bookstore in order to assure himself of getting a copy right away, and here in our smaller town grocery store sat two full boxes of the book on sale. So, Tony and I decided to purchase the book for the family, but really we purchased it so Kyle would have a chance to begin reading what he had been waiting months for.

Arriving home, Tony tip-toed into Kyle's room and put the book near Kyle's head, which awakened him. Tony delivered his dad-inspired, canned line, "Dad and I thought you might want to start reading Harry Potter while you're home," and within minutes Kyle appeared in his semi-groggy morning state to declaim with an ironic smile on his face, "Now how am I supposed to work when all I want to do is read?" I assured him that he would find plenty of time to read the 700+-page tome between work and said, "A better response might be, 'Thanks for thinking of me, dad.'" The sparkle in his eye and the smile were sufficient, which is a good thing, but there were no particular words of thanks extended. Througout the day I would see Kyle reading a chapter here and there amidst his PCA tasks. It warmed my heart to know how inexpensive and easy it was to help my twenty-year-old son enjoy his weekend home.

On Sunday morning all of us who were home enjoyed worship together (well, I say together, but that's a relative term because I am typically one of those leading worship, not sitting with my family), along with many other wonderful people, including a number of guests. It was really an enjoyably refreshing morning, and I revel in the ways God is working in the life of our congregation. We are gradually seeing more diversity (ethnic as well as age) and there is an excited "buzz" that emanates forth from our times of worship. I am as vocationally happy as I have ever been, thrilled with the continuing progress we are together making.

Sunday after lunch (which turned out to be a pleasant affair, as well, as ten us ate Mongolian Grill together) I was interviewed for an FASD documentary, and then returned home. Earlier in the day our interviewer offered to return Kyle to the metro area since he was headed that way anyway, so I let Kyle make the decision. Kyle, who is an introvert and not all that interested in discussing his past or the disorder-specific traits of his birth brother (Mike, who is currently in jail awaiting trial), decided he would prefer his dad provide the ride home. I could tell in our decision-making process about who would take him home that Kyle was trying his best to be selfless, asking me several times what I would prefer. I simply said, "You know that I enjoy visiting with you, Kyle, so I'd be happy to take you home, but if all you're going to do is read the book then it might as well be anyone." "Well, I couldn't exactly read the book if [the other person] took me back, could I?" I appreciated his desire to save me the hassle of driving three hours, but enjoyed knowing his preference.

As we got into the car to leave for his house, he muttered apologetically, "Well, it would have been kind of awkward to ride back with [the other person]. I don't really know him or anything." I said in jest, "That's fine, Kyle. I'm glad that you prefer me over a total stranger." He shot me a look that wondered whether or not I was being light-hearted or irritated, but I smiled and said, "I'm glad to spend some time with you. Let's go."

He did his best to engage me in conversation during our first ten of the ninety mile trip, but I could tell he really would rather be reading, so I began to respond in less flourished sentences until Kyle finally said, "Well, since you're going to be the strong silent type, I think I'll read a while." I said as kindly as I could, "Sounds fine, Kyle, I've been talking most of the day already [referring to the Sunday morning church, visiting, lunch, interview sequence of events], so do what you need to do." Again he looked at me inquisitively and said, "What do you mean by that?" "Nothing at all," I said, knowing that in past years when I've used that phrase it has usually been delivered with caustic sarcasm as in, "I can't belive you're so selfish to want to read/watch your movie/not talk when I'm giving up hours to drive you someplace." But this time it was not meant with sarcasm; I simply wanted my son to enjoy his time with me, even if that meant his attention being focused on a book he was enjoying rather than a conversation with me. After a couple more interrogatories (in which he attempted to ferret our my true meaning) he seemed satisfied with my responses and engaged Harry Potter one more time.

Occasionally he would say, "I just need to finish this chapter, and then I'll talk to you," to which I would say, "That's fine, Kyle. Take your time." Turned out there were many chapters that needed to be finished, so we had limited conversation. As we approached the metro area he put the book down and we talked about where to eat dinner.

After dinner we drove back to his house. WIthin a few blocks of his departure I said, "Well, Kyle, it's been really nice having you home this weekend." "Thanks, Dad, it was nice being home, too. Thanks for dinner and thanks for buying the book." "You're welcome. I hope you'll remember that I do some nice things for you the next time you think I'm a real ass." "When's the last time I thought you were an ass, Dad?" "I'm sure it's been more recently than you think, Kyle."

And then, with a smile on his face and a glint in his eyes, he was opening the door, retrieving his stuff from the back seat and on his way back "home." "See you soon, Kyle. I love." "Love you, too, Dad."

It was a weekend that was more than I could have asked for. I'm sure glad we adopted that boy.

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