They say it happens at age fourteen for girls. Overnight some alien starts inhabiting their bodies, replacing the girl that was known and loved with an impossible, emotionally charged, otherworldly being. This lasts for about 3-5 years before the old girl returns and the family is once again right side up.
For boys it happens around seventeen. They enter this forest preceding adulthood, leading the parents into the woods to find their lost son. Whatever moral compass or map they seemed to own in childhood is suddenly lost as they discover a world of new senses, experiences and manly power - a dangerous combination.
Attempting to rescue and prevent impending disaster, I follow blindly into the woods.
And soon we were both lost. Vision truncated to a few feet in front of me. Occasionally a trace of his whereabouts as I stumble in the dark and sunless green.
This forest of seventeen.
Gnarly roots protruding, I trip on clues. Like Visine-to-get-the-red-out, odd items hidden under hedges and behind pots, getting sick on the bedroom couch in the middle of the night....because you ate something bad last night??? Couch is put out for bulk trash. Stunned, my face hammers into a pillar of bark. Smack hard,
wondering what just happened.
I wonder all the time.
Conversations are spoken as if through a smoky glass. Furtive glances replace eye contact. Garbled words for plain answers, lacking logic. Stories don't line up. Reality warped and stretched like carnival mirrors - shapes distorted and confusing. The fog lays heavy, through the thickly growing arbors.
I brush him sometimes and sense him near, but not really. The light has left his eyes.
Some mothers, less sensitive to privacy, break through by scanning text messages and caller ID to confirm the bad friends and suspect girlfriend. I sum up the sketchy evidence and draw frightening conclusions that may or may not be true.
Knees are raw from praying, heart sore and eyes empty of tears.
I'm not sure when we will see light again.
Did you leave a trail of stones or bread? Anything to help us find our way out to
clear skies and
honesty, truth, innocence.
So far, not even a dot of light on the charcoal horizon...
(Note to concerned readers: We are not in crisis. After raising 4 boys, this is a collective, general reflection of a stage I've noticed some sons go through. We are fine, though never without need of God's grace and guidance.)