There is a tradition at my college that I have been looking forward to sharing with M. Every year at homecoming (think BBQ and square dance in a cow pasture, not tailgating at a football game), there is good food, horse drawn carriage rides and then…there is the bonfire. I love the bonfire. It is one tradition that I get really excited about. Once the sun sets, a long line of students come down the hill and down the farm road carrying lit torches. The crowd notices and starts to gather around the fifteen-feet tall pyre, anticipating the annual lighting. We all know there will be fire spinning after the pile is ablaze, perhaps an illuminated hula hoop or two. Good times.
It all happened last night. I had been building M up all day talking about how much fun the big fire is and how I was so excited to show him now that he is a big boy. When we saw the torches in the distance, he got really quiet. We inched our way closer as the torch-bearers lit the kindling around the base of the pile. The wood began to catch and alumni from the last sixty years cheered. M was pretty quiet.
He asked to stand on a chair right in front of the fire. After a couple minutes, he said, “I’m feeling nervous. I’d like to go home now.” I felt so…proud. Proud that my little guy is in touch with how he feels. Then I realized that my job, as his mother, is to help him stay that way. My job is to raise a boy who will become a man who can talk about how he feels, who can express himself in gentle ways, who can have his voice heard without dominating. Last night was just the beginning.
So, when my boy told us he was nervous, even though I had been really excited to share the tradition with him, we each gave him a huge hug and headed for the car. Last night, we did our job.