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Let’s talk cars … in 2024

May 22, 2008

On May 20th, 1994, Soren Skye Ramsay June burst into the world and announced his arrival with a halting cry. The evening was warm and punctuated by the sound of frogs in the acequia behind our one-room Española home. The clock read 7:16 pm.
As I swooned over my firstborn, I mused about the fact that, across town, signs had been posted on the door to the Northern New Mexico Community College theater that read “Performance canceled due to act of God, please join us tomorrow night.” Soren’s birth had successfully pre-empted opening night of The Crucible, the premiere performance of the Española Community Theater. Our little act of God, who would not be upstaged, settled in for his first nurse around the time his father should have been stepping into his role as John Proctor.
Flash forward 14 years. This boy who made me a mom now needs braces, has a cell phone, and talks about such things as driving.
“If I was driving already, Mom, I could help you with picking up Graysen and stuff,” he told me as we drove into town the other day. This comment was quickly followed by, “Oh look! A Mini Cooper!”
He lusts after Minis the way I pined for a Jeep.
“Dream on, son,” I said. “And anyway, you’re not driving ’til you’re 30.”
My sarcasm was rewarded by a dismissive roll of the eyes.
Despite my flip comment, he and I both know that driving is inevitable. No matter how much I resist this impending reality, I know that it will be liberating for all of us. I also know that Soren is a careful kid. When I can forget my own harrowing teenage driving experiences, I realize that it isn’t driving that scares me. I’m not melancholy about the fact that he could actually move out in four years. Instead, I worry that there will come a day when the spark goes out. I worry that one day, perhaps very soon, I will look over to see that my teenage son has morphed into the disgruntled stereotype with which I am personally acquainted.
I wandered through several of my teenage years like this. I wore black, from head to toe, and smoked in the arroyos during PE. I ditched classes,  snuck out of the house at night and drove way too fast.
I hosted parties in my parents’ absence, and hunted down keggers with my friends.
In my rebellion I turned to these friends, rather than my family — an urge I liken a bit to the dark period in the archetypal hero’s journey, where friends become enemies and enemies become friends.
Suddenly, my parents were the ones in the way, discouraging my freedom and, I thought, independence. I had met the enemy, and he wasn’t us. He was them … those of the parental persuasion.
Years later I resigned myself to the idea that this teenage morosity is both universal and inevitable.
But now, as the mother of a teen … I wonder. I can still recall what fueled the flame of my anger way back when. As silly as it might seem now, the continuous denial of ballet lessons due to my mediocre grades was a big part of it. I dreamt of being a dancer. I ached for it … yet was never allowed lessons. I was also quite offended by the fact that my parents nixed the idea of me spending my first table-bussing paycheck on a used Jeep. They simply couldn’t get what the nice salesman knew so well — that the clutch, which I couldn’t depress on the Jeep in question, was actually optional.
But I also know that it isn’t as simple as being denied ballet and a Jeep (with a cool ragtop! And optional clutch!). My parent’s divorce, which occurred when I was 15, certainly derailed many things for me at an inherently difficult time in my life. They were both emotionally frayed by their split, and the depression was tangible. Contagious.
In addition, they both had spent so many years repressing their feelings that they simply weren’t able to understand, empathize with, or reflect mine. I floated in a wordless, angry limbo until the partying and sneaking and ditching got, well, boring.
I understand, now, having become a divorced parent in my own right. I understand the emotional abyss that opens up when a marriage ends. I also, like my own parents, know what it means to climb out of it, and I hope and trust that I have a strong emotional base to offer my own kids as they make the transition into adolescence.
For after all, seeing one’s true self positively reflected in the greater world is a key part of growing up healthy, happy and centered.
So Soren … happy birthday. I’m proud of you. Keep that spark in your eyes, be always curious. If you meet the enemy, know that he is not us. Or me. And let’s talk cars. I figure, if you start saving now, you can have that Mini by the time you’re able to drive.
In 2024.

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