There's a fantastic song on Randy Newman's latest album, Harps and Angels, called Potholes - wherein, it is written:
I even love my teenage daughter
There's no accounting for it
Apparently I don't care how I'm treated
My love is unconditional or something
The only time to say "I love you" is when you mean it.
The best time to say "I love you" is now.
You can love completely without complete understanding.*
This evening, my son graduated from high school. He did not do so with any particular academic distinction - but there were no bribes involved either. As The Boy himself put it, the primary emotion he felt upon graduation was - relief.
My son did not enjoy high school. He is hardly alone in this. He thought it was long and boring. He's glad it's over.
By contrast, I sometimes feel like the only person in the universe that liked high school. Hell, I loved it. When I graduated high school, I felt like a king. So it's hard for me to understand how The Boy feels.
The ceremony itself left a lot to be desired. I'm not going to say much about it - 'cause I think the Middle-Aged Woman has a post planned around that topic. Let's just say: the conditions were not what one might have imagined for such a grand and auspicious occasion. The Boy did his part to make things difficult as well - avoiding photographs as much as possible - as well as all eye-contact or recognition of applauding family and friends. ("The sun was in my eyes", he later claimed.)
Afterward, Snoplum and I took The Boy and his BFF, Joey, out for dinner at a favorite pizzeria. While the Red Wings were busy accepting a can of whoop-ass delivered by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second period tonight, Joey and The Boy happily sent text messages non-stop until Mom and I pointed out that a little human interaction might be good for the boys. Joey dutifully put his phone away and tried to maintain a conversation regarding the search for a job. The Boy kept texting away - until the MAW and I busted him for the 57th time.
When it was pointed out to The Boy that he might want to devote more attention to the people he was with (at least, physically) - he said, "Well, I'm texting them - so I don't have to be with them." He didn't understand why we thought he was being inconsiderate. I didn't understand why he felt the need to pay more attention to people who weren't with him than to those who were seated around him.
I fear that all this makes the evening sound unpleasant. It wasn't. A forty-something married couple and two freshly high-school-graduated boys shared a meal together. There were no epiphanies, no emotional breakthroughs. We spent time together, uneventful - but nice.
I'm proud of my son - but not because of his high school achievements.
I know my son is a good boy - but I also know that he's lazy with a capital "L".
I don't understand my son - but I'm not quick to claim an understanding of anyone.**
Once the meal was over, my son was anxious to be off with Joey. They agreed to spend the night at our house (they're in the basement watching a movie as I type this) but The Boy asked if they could leave while we waited to pay the bill. No problem.
I reached across the table and shook my son's hand.
"Congratulations, son. I love you."
"Thanks. I love you too, Dad."
* from Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It
** As the MAW would readily point out, I'm not like other people.
RED WINGS PLAYOFF UPDATE:
The Stanley Cup Finals - Detroit vs. Pittsburgh
The Wings lost to the Penguins Thursday night by a score of 4-2.
Detroit and Pittsburgh are tied 2 - 2 in the best of seven series.