Because of traffic and location, I drive Cady to school first. Some mornings she is spirited. The conversation does not stop until she steps from the car. “I love this song.” Her clear voice with perfect tone sings along for a few bars before stopping mid-word. “Guess what Hope told me.” James and I get caught up on our Intermediate school gossip. She tells us about something “really cool” she is learning in science or math. “Math?” I think. I marvel at this girl I created.
Other mornings the winds of teenage hormones to come blow through the car. Questions are answered with grunts and snaps. The radio is too loud. The air conditioning is too cold. Her friends all hate her. School is too hard. And no one understands.
One of those mornings, she stomped from the car and slammed her door hard enough to rock the car. “I LOVE YOU!” I yelled at my closed window. As I drove away, James snickered in the backseat. I caught his eye in the rear view mirror and smiled. “You know what we should do the next time she’s grumpy in the morning?”
“We should roll down our windows and yell as loud as we can ‘We love you Cady’.”
“Let’s do it.” He laughed.
We did not have to wait long. The following week we were met with one of those mornings. Grump. Snap. Stomp. Slam. Shake. Not too many people were around. I rolled down the window.
“WE LOVE YOU CADY!!!”
I saw her spine relax. Her slow tread to the day’s inevitable doom became a quick hustle to move down the sidewalk away from us. I glanced at her as we passed and saw a small smile on her face. James cackled in the backseat. “That was so awesome.”
“She is going to be so mad at us.” I warned. He continued to laugh.
A few minutes later, he spoke up, “Promise me that you will never do that to me.”
“Oh, so it is good enough for Cady, but not for you.” I chuckled.
I pulled through his school drop off lane. He unbuckled and readied his jacket and backpack. We pulled up to the attendant, and she opened the door for him. He stepped out, turned, and said, “I love you momma.” Like he does every day. We say I love you’s in the car, but he never misses a chance to tell me one more time.
I smiled. “I love you too Bud. Have a good day.”
He grinned and walked away. Then he turned to see if I was watching and waved good-bye.
I am always watching. Because I know, and he knows, that one day all too soon he will walk away and not look back.