Today is #4’s first day of his last year of secondary education. That’s right. My baby is a senior in high school. What a great person he has turned into! He has his opinions, and knows how to follow the letter of the law while thumbing his nose at the spirit of it. Here’s how he’s doing it today: There is a school rule that says “no mustaches or beards”, and the intention is “no facial hair”, however, it does not SAY that, so he spent the Summer growing an admirable set of Greg Allman style mutton chops. He also grew a mustache but that came off…I think…(checking pictures)…yes, it did. The remarkably unflappable headmaster of the school, when queried by #4 regarding the legality of the mutton chops, told him that he would permit them but reluctantly. Which was good enough for #4. He’s also very blonde, so the said chops don’t really show up.
For having gone through such a rough time, losing his father, with whom he was so close, (no, really. I know people say that about sons who lose their fathers, but they were peas in a proverbial pod), he has such a sunny outlook on life. He knows things suck sometimes, and don’t always go the way they’re planned, but his hearty Calvinist education has taught him that Sh!t Happens, and God planned it that way for our good and His glory, so getting angry and whining about it doesn’t really accomplish much. He (#4) has been a massive comfort to me through this Post-Himself journey, as well as a source of wisdom-beyond-his-years.
He isn’t really sure what the post-high school years hold, other than not going to college immediately. I encourage that, taking a year or two, or three, before college. He needs time to figure out exactly what to do, breathe after 12 years of constant education, go to technical school and get a certificate or two. It seems very prudent to grow up some before embarking on something as major as a college education. He hasn’t decided if he’s moving to Alabama with me, or staying here. There is a fine technical school and a university that has excellent science and engineering programs in this town, as well as many people we know, who would be pleased to keep an eye on him or even rent him a room. He has friends here as well. While I would love for him to move with me, he is an adult and needs to chart his own way. Currently he’s thinking of welding certifications (there’s always jobs for good welders), and then a chemistry degree, following in his father’s footsteps. That, of course, can change, but he do love him some chemistry.
When I look really hard at him, past the mutton chops and hairy legs, I still see the sweet faced little boy who pushed Tonka trucks around and ordered chicken fingers every time we ate out. I see the nearly limitless collection of Legos, and Matchbox cars. I wonder where the overalls and little hiking boots went, and when did he decide to branch out and eat something other than chicken fingers (usually hot wings now. The hotter the better.). When did he start gathering up such an interesting crowd of friends, all polite like he is, and all interesting and quirky, just like him.
He does such..I don’t know…Non-typical things for a 17 year old boy-man. A while back, I left him here and went out of town (older brothers on call if needed). He phoned and asked if he could make some spaghetti sauce. Sure, I replied. How does one complain when one’s son wants to make a meal? The next day he called, to apologetically inform me that the spaghetti had turned into a full-blown dinner party with 3 friends. I’m thinking…well. Ok. So you cooked a gourmet (for his sauce surely is that, with fresh herbs and red wine and all the good things) meal and had friends over. Knowing his friends, there was a properly set table with cloth napkins and intellectual conversation occasionally spiced up with 16 yr old’s boner jokes. They’d cleaned up the kitchen, properly packaged up the leftover teaspoon of sauce, and carried on. I’m not about to complain about that.
Earlier this Summer I’d noticed that his friends (the ones who were capable of it, that is) were sporting luscious facial hair. One had a whole Mountain Man thing going, another had groomed it into a proper Van Dyke, complete with waxed mustache. When I commented that it was unfortunate they’d have to lose it before school started, I was quickly informed they were wearing it until admonished by the administrators and told to shave. The Van Dyke was so awesome it would be a shame, even an affront to God’s Handiwork, to lose the thing. Is there anyone more proud of their facial hair than a young man? Perhaps this is why hipster men do the beards, as they are generally young. Hm.
Anyway. My baby is in his last year of school. Next year it is likely he won’t be living in the same house as I am. I will be in a completely different house soon after he graduates. Next year he’s going to Europe for a couple of weeks. He has a car. He has something resembling a plan for his future. He wears Hawaiian shirts as a uniform (also skirting the dress code, as it implies plain shirts but never comes out and says it). His Senior Project (which is teaching a 45 minute class on any subject he wants) involves chemistry and fire and smoke. He’s an excellent cook, has a job, old women love him, and I am proud as punch of him. I know Himself is looking down on him and smiling.