I saw a play in Philadelphia a few weeks called “Mothers and Sons,” and while the story’s premise isn’t something I’m dealing with, it did remind me of the bond that ties a mother to her son and (a girl can hope) a son to his mother. The play was about a mother who had lost her gay son to AIDS many years before and her refusal to accept him for who he was during his life.
That’s a tad bigger than the issue I’m dealing with. I’m just trying to accept that my son refuses to do his homework or, if he does do it, refuses to hand it in. This isn’t new. I’ve been living with my chronic “no-homework-here” son ever since he entered middle school. Either the work got harder or he got more comfortable blowing it off.
As I write this, he’s downstairs working on a presentation for history class that is due tomorrow. It is one of those projects that typically instill misery around here, which is to say it is a “long term project.” So, this oral and written presentation was assigned three weeks ago; my champ started it around 4 p.m. this afternoon (after I woke him from his afternoon nap.)
He worked for about an hour or so and then I heard him wrestling up some Bugles in the pantry. I was making meatballs and he started talking about how there might be some good news after all.
“Mom, we will probably get a snowstorm tomorrow, in which case this won’t have to be turned in until Friday,” my strategist announced. That’s a tactic that usually doesn’t work out, I offer.
The problem with my son’s procrastination (benevolent word choice) is that it affects everyone. It doesn’t just start and stop with him and his teachers. It spills over into the dynamics of our relationship and strains our bond. You know, that mother/son bond.
Ever since the play, I’ve taken special notice of mother/son bonds – my own included. Here’s how mine goes: I am forever inclined to make him food. Correct. I think nothing of whipping him up French toast, pancakes, and bacon for breakfast. A pork roll and cheese sandwich, tuna melt or turkey Panini for lunch. And for dinner, well, let’s just say I’m not the meatball fan around here.
If he sleeps in and misses the bus, I get annoyed and curse that I have to drive him to school and then promptly go downstairs and make him a corned beef and pastrami sandwich for school. With French dressing.
Big deal, Zoe! You cook for your son. Who doesn’t? But it isn’t quite that simple. I cook for my son when he’s mean to me. When he is insolent. When he is irresponsible. Apparently, my version of the bond is that no matter what, his tummy cannot growl.
I witnessed another mother/son bond recently and this one involved food as well. My sense, however, is that there’s less cooking and more take out in this relationship; but still, she doesn’t seem to want to ponder an empty stomach either.
But with this mother/son duo I saw something more subtle. You see, her son had taken a risk a few months back. He’d bet on something – and it was something that would either work out well for him or take a chunk out of him. I’m not talking money or career. Try hearts and souls. Suffice it to say, a lamb shank and a dollop of scalloped potatoes wouldn’t make it all better. So, instead, she fed him some advice, some love and some courage.
I know my bond with my son stretches past the kitchen, too. And one day when all homework assignments are either done, not done, turned in or not turned in, there will still be one long-term project that neither of us will be ready to finish.