Today I took my older son – who’s fifteen – to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I went to see it when it opened, mostly to take my mind off of the fears and frustrations surrounding my move to New York City in June. After being laid off from my last two Chicago jobs, I’d moved east hoping for a better chance of survival. Nearly six months later, I’m still alive – no easy feat, considering I moved without a place to live, a job, or more than $62 in the bank. But the move also came with a personal price: my two sons still live in Chicago.
There’s a back-story there, but it’s not important. What matters is that it hasn’t been easy maintaining a relationship with my teenage son, who under the best of circumstances (I am told) would be chomping at the bit of impending freedom. But I’m trying; today’s efforts included flying to Chicago a day earlier than necessary so I could take him to dinner and a movie.
When I saw Perks the first time, I cried. At the end – and this is not a spoiler – a voiceover tells us that maybe when we’re 17 we forget what it’s like to be 16, that one day we will become parents and have children of our own, but that we will always have had the experience of being young and trying to find a place for ourselves in a big and confusing universe.
I cried again at the movie tonight. I remember so distinctly what it was like to be my son’s age – trigonometry class and PSATs and first kisses and feeling I didn’t belong, ever. I wanted him to know what my adolescence was like (Perks is – or could be – set around the time I was in high school) – so he could relate to me not simply as a woman who’d become his mom when she was only 23 but as a person with a past not terribly unlike his present.
My mother used to tell me not to be in such a hurry to grow up. The older I get, the more I wish I’d listened.
About the author: Amy L. Hayden writes stories, both real and imagined. She adores the subjunctive mood, miniature versions of normal-sized things, intelligent banter, parenthetical statements, her children, Oxford commas, and supportive undergarments. Find her online at http://amylhayden.net or follow her on Twitter.