He’s so bored. My teenager.
It’s not a phrase we use in our family. And it’s not exactly what he said to me this afternoon, but it’s what I heard. “Can we go somewhere?” is actually what he said.
It was 2 p.m. on a Thursday. It was 90 degrees. We don’t have a pool. We have no family in town and we are social distancing. I’m up for just about anything.
“Where?” I asked him.
“I don’t know.”
And that’s when I just about lost it inside.
Maybe you’ve been there. You hold your expression, willing it not to change from calm, helpful inquiry. You bite at your upper lip. You are conscious of your eyebrows wanting to pull tight to frame a glare. All the things you’re already responsible for, and now this fourteen year old wants you to solve this problem, too? You have no idea where he might want to go.
“I guess just ride to the dam,” he finally answers.
And I’m going to confess to you that we’ve now driven over that Lake Murray Dam more times during this pandemic than we have his entire fourteen year life prior combined. Sometimes we’ll park and walk a bit, but I know that’s not in the plans for today. It’s too hot.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I could plan a lake beach afternoon, throw on our swimsuits underneath our clothes, grab a few towels…to that I’ll say you do not have a fourteen year old boy who just asked to go somewhere.
We get in the car and I notice that he is wearing shoes, so there is a possibility of this trip actually leading to something. But he has his phone so he’s mostly going to disappear into it.
And sure enough, not far out of the neighborhood he tells me to look at this Instagram post. It was a picture of a puppy. A very adorable puppy.
(Don’t worry. We were at a red light when I looked.)
I recognize the account. It’s from a school friend who lives close by and I remember that I asked the mom at end of school pick-up if they were willing to include us in their social distancing pod, and she’d seemed agreeable.
My boy seems confused. “Now?”
“Yes!” I declare. “Call him now and ask him if we can come see that puppy.”
The friend answers. I holler into the blue tooth speaker and we get the OK to drop by. I pull into a parking lot and sit a few minutes so we don’t arrive too soon. I don’t want them to think that we called from their driveway.
Mom and friend and brother are waiting for us, their garage door up. We fumble between mask or no mask and are soon invited inside. It is lovely. I get to touch a real live baby dog. I call him baby dog because puppy doesn’t do my joy justice. All the pandemic moments these past months that I’ve thought, if only I could have a baby to take care of for a few hours. A baby dog is almost as good.
And then, there is the fact that another adult (besides my husband) is sitting there talking to me, too, and listening to me. I hardly notice that our boys are sitting close and conversing.
Y’all, after about fifteen minutes, she utters the most gracious words that have ever come from another mother’s mouth (you know, except for offering me her puppy). HE CAN STAY AWHILE.
I look at our boys and both of them seem eager. And while there were so many things I could’ve still conversed with that other mother about, I was out of there. Driving home I realized that this euphoria I felt was not because I was free of my child for a few hours. This euphoria was because my baby was happy.
And you know what? Those two boys might have been a little bored by the time I returned, but boredom had never been the real problem. The problem was loneliness. It’s so much worse. It took a puppy pic for me to figure it out.
Is your boy lonely this pandemic season?
You could get a puppy. Or, you could invite yourself over.