“Mama, can I tell you something?”
This question is asked several times a day.
Usually, it is about one of his favorite shows.
He updates me on the latest episode or shows me clips of it.
Or he tells me about the latest gaming system he’s come across, or a new game.
Sometimes, he shows me what he is doing in his game and how it works.
He loves the graphics and it is common for him to ask me to watch him as he plays so I can see his progress.
Or, he wants to tell me about a song he just heard and ask what I think about it.
“Do you like it?” he asks.
“I liked this song a lot,” I tell him and point out which one and why.
I try not to be critical or negative because even though he’s a teenager now, he’s still in such a highly formative time. And kids get enough criticism and negativity without us bashing stuff when they are eager to share it with us.
“Wanna listen to another one?” he asks.
He ends up playing me the whole CD.
Heavy metal was my way of rebelling just as rap and punk are his – a soft rebellion but a rebellion nonetheless. I know more about his music than I do mine.
Sometimes, he wants to see the video so we watch it on YouTube.
He always asks me first, knowing that YouTube may have stuff on there that’s not exactly appropriate.
“Do you want to know why I like this?” he asks.
“Tell me,” I say.
And you know what?
I sit and listen.
I pay attention to what he’s sharing with me.
There were times I was growing up that Mama didn’t listen to me.
Or, she rolled her eyes and thought my interests were silly.
“You don’t need a new Mouse album,” she said.
“Ratt,” I corrected.
“How do you call this music? All the men you like are wearing makeup and have bigger hair than you!”
“You may love Prince but Elvis was and will always be King.”
“Are you watching another movie with Canoe Reeves?”
I spent 90 percent of my teenage years rolling my eyes and wishing my Mama would stop being so critical of everything I liked.
It got to the point I didn’t want to tell her anything I liked because she would make fun of it or be just downright snarky.
She still does it, to a degree.
“Why do you color your hair? I think that is so ridiculous. God gave you a perfectly fine color of hair and you should leave it alone.”
I say nothing. Arguing about why I like something is pointless.
Just like a few weeks ago, my son decided to cut his hair.
His hair, that he had grown out for a year because he wanted it to be like Joey Ramone’s.
When he decided he wanted to grow it out, he asked me what I thought.
“It’s your hair,” was my response.
When he wanted to cut it, I admit, I was sad to see it go. I loved it and thought it was pretty but as my son told me, a boy’s hair is not supposed to be pretty.
After he got it cut, he asked me what I thought.
“I like it,” I said.
“Honest.” And I do.
It was his choice, his preference, his likes – not mine.
“Did you want to watch The Simpsons?” I ask.
He sits next to me on the couch.
“Thank you for always taking an interest in what I like,” he says. “I know you don’t really like The Simpsons.”
“But you do, and that means I have an interest in it.”
As long as he is eager and excited to share what he is interested in with me, I am going to listen.
I am going to watch it or watch him play.
I am going to Google it to make sure it is appropriate and find out everything I can.
I will always listen to his music and allow him to have that freedom of expression with what he likes.
If he wants to share and tell me what’s important in his world, I am going to gladly be a part of it.
“You don’t have to watch this if you don’t want to,” he says.
Nope, I will. I know when my Mama was snarky about things, I quit sharing those details with her. It’s no fun having someone you love rip your stuff apart.
As long as it is important to him, it will be important to me.
“Always?” he asks.