- Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 01:00
- Written by Jackie Madden Haugh
Staring at the lump of flesh passed out on the couch, pressure within the magma chamber of my brain began to boil. Within seconds, my anger couldn’t be contained and an explosive stream of words erupted over my sleeping child.
“Tim, I didn’t travel halfway around the world to watch you sleep!”
Slowly rotating his 6-foot-tall frame, he pulled the blanket over his face and grunted a phrase I hadn’t heard in a long time: “Mom, relax! We have all day.”
Immediately, my quest for a fabulous vacation billowed in front of my eyes like a puff of smoke from a bad cigar.
For the past 20 months, Tim, the 25-year-old heir apparent to the Haugh dynasty, has been living the life of a bohemian. Based in Barcelona, he tutors English by day and explores Europe on the weekends. Positive he missed me, I made the 15-hour trip to visit.
“Things start late around here,” the hairy creature grumbled, sporting a full beard and long, disheveled Shirley Temple curls that cascaded down his back.
Wondering which I was more upset with, this new caveman-on-steroids look or his lax attitude about wanting to please his mother, I hissed, “This was no cheap excursion, you know.”
Leaving our apartment, it quickly became apparent that traveling with a son was going to be quite different from traveling with a daughter. There would be no stopping to browse cute shops along the boulevard. Lunch was just a pit stop, and resting at a cafe for a glass of wine late in the afternoon to discuss feelings was wishful thinking on my part. No, the plans I had for this trip went spinning in a swirling vortex down a Spanish toilet.
But remembering the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” I thought perhaps an attitude adjustment was in order. While I wasn’t in Italy, I was on my son’s turf – and who better than Tim to decide how the day should flow?
It wasn’t long before eating dinner at 10 p.m. and sleeping until noon became as natural as eating strawberries on shortcake. Shopping could wait until I got back to the U.S., but I was still having problems with our communication. While I spoke in flowery, melodic narratives that dragged on forever, Tim conversed in staccato beats of black and white, leaving much to the imagination. And then, without warning, it happened.
Tipping his hand one evening, he briefly displayed his cards revealing all he valued as private before drawing them back to his chest. My job, should I want to continue to stay in the game, was to listen quietly and ask no questions. Thankfully, I did.
Leaving Barcelona eight days later, I did what I always do when saying goodbye to one of my kids. I blubbered. But these were sobs of a different kind.
By allowing my child to converse in his special dialect, without my annoying constant interruptions, he opened up his heart and let me into his world. I became a witness to the incredible person he’s become while still maintaining the sweetness he possessed as a child. Tim is no longer a little boy – he’s an independent, deep-thinking and kind young man. His values are solid, and he remains true to himself, following his path, always authentic.
I traveled to Spain for an adventure but got more than I bargained for. By crossing the threshold that had blocked us in his youth, communication was allowed to flow easily. I arrived as his mother, but I left as his friend.