Walkin’ and Talkin’ With My Boy

“The true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking. The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by, and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active; the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes from the talk.”  –Mark Twain

My boy is growing up– no question about that. He has gone from a scrawny little peanut with wild hair and dimples to a broad-shouldered, strong, responsible boy with carefully combed hair– and, thank goodness, he still has the dimples. Conversation doesn’t come as easily for us as it used to. With my daughters, we talk about the cooking shows we like to watch and the Little House on the Prairie books that I’ve always loved that they do too– cute outfits and hairdos and our mutual affinity for Target. My son hates stores– detests shopping– and he prefers tales of dragons and other mythical creatures to stories of pioneer days. But, my girls aren’t crazy about taking random walks to nowhere– and my son is.

So we walk. We take adventure walks around West Seattle with no clue how long we’ll last or where we’ll end up. We walk to QFC and Safeway to get groceries, and he practices his gentlemanly skills by insisting on carrying the groceries home to leave my arms free. We walk around the West Seattle Junction and pop into the little shops that line the street. He affords me a stop in the sock store if I promise that we’ll stop by the book store. He lets me look at the Seattle Skyline socks that I so badly want but refuse to pay $14 for, and I let him look at the new hardback release of the next Percy Jackson novel that costs even more than  my socks, so he says he’s willing to wait for the paperback version.

And in between shops, or grocery stores, or parks– we talk. Sometimes I tell a funny joke to kick things off and break the ice, and that’s really all it takes to get him giggling and think of a gazillion funny stories he wants to tell me. We may not have a whole lot of interests in common, but we do have a kind of messed up sense of humor in common. So we laugh about silly commercials we’ve seen or funny segments of television shows or humorous dialogue from our books. I ask him if he’s nervous about going into middle school and he surprises me with his courageous spirit and confident mindset. He tells me about his friends and the games they play at the age of eleven, because I honestly can’t remember what you play when you’re eleven and you still want to play but you’re feeling too old for certain toys. I tell him that I always want him to feel comfortable bringing friends– and someday girlfriends– to our house and he says he always will because we are cool parents and don’t embarrass him. Yet.

When our legs finally give out, and our voices too, we head home. Most of the time we head home in silence, all of our stories and jokes told, but we walk with smiles on our faces and the sun on our shoulders and the breeze in our hair. And if I’m lucky– super duper hardly ever happens kind of lucky– when we’re off the main road and in the back alley that leads to our house, I feel a strong, warm, dirty, getting-bigger-every-day hand reach for mine, and I grip that hand tightly, feeling that all is right in the world.