Scene: Harriet’s car. Harriet and AJ are driving to or from one of AJ’s many activities.
AJ: If I go far away to college, will you move with me?
Harriet: (smothering a smile) By the time you are ready to go to college, I don’t think you’ll want me to come with you. You’re going to want to be on your own. But we’ll come visit you and you’ll come home for vacations to see us.
AJ: Even if I go to Stanford?
I’m not sure if I already told the story above. It happened a few weeks ago, but it’s been sticking with me because it’s emblematic of the tormented place AJ is in at the moment, at once desperate for his own independent life and craving the feeling of reliable family that has been shaken a bit by all my travel in the last few months. He wants to go to college, he wants to see the world, but he wants to make sure we’re going to be there for him. We try to reassure him of this fact regularly.
This morning I wasn’t feeling very well, so after breakfast, I returned to bed with my laptop to start my work day. In the next room, I could hear AJ chattering to himself, as he often does. He is always acting out scenes in his head or singing little songs of his own devising. This morning he was having both sides of a discussion about an assignment they have for class. They’ve been studying political cartoons and also the American Revolution in social studies. He had to draw a cartoon about the Boston Massacre last week. And this week, he’s working on a project where he has to find three political cartoons and talk about what they mean and then draw one of his own. The discussion he was having with himself was over the nature of the cartoon he was going to draw. Should he draw a sports cartoon? Or one about the American Revolution? I didn’t hear the final revolution, only the discussion with his imaginary friend.
Downstairs, I tell Mr. Spy about what I’ve overheard, because I thought it was charming. He worries a bit about whether we’ve done AJ a disservice in making him an only child. But if truth be told, AJ comes by his tendency to talk to himself honestly. Mr. Spy tends to have long discussions with the television during sporting events. And just now, as I went down to make myself an afternoon snack, I realized I was saying out loud, “Now it’s time to poppa da korn” in the Swedish Chef’s voice:
It’s a good thing I’m home alone.