Apr 15, 2013 0 Share

The Mind of the 18-Year-Old Male


The author's son with buzz cut.
Photo by Julie van der Poel

Hurray for having an 18-year old-son! At least that’s what I keep trying to tell myself. Even though Cameron is very different from many 18-year-olds, I am making a concerted effort to treat him like an 18- year-old … whenever feasible.

Last weekend was a prime example of my having to make a conscious decision to let Cameron be 18. Cameron went to see an R-rated movie, and it wasn’t rated R for violence or language, if you get my drift. But that’s what 18-year-old boys do, right? He purchased the ticket online, and I only assisted a teeny bit. He’s been through this process before, and it caused a bit of stress when it came down to collecting the ticket at the theater. This time he printed the ticket at home, and there was a look of pride on his face when the paper spit out of the printer. This look of pride was only spoiled when I asked him how he was getting to the theater. He clearly hadn’t thought this through … or rather, he had thought this through, and assumed I would be willing to drive him. That’s what 18-year-old boys do, right? Well he assumed wrong, so off he went on a 45-minute bike journey. When he returned home, he quickly got ready for work, and left the house again. He was getting his hair cut before work, so he left much earlier than his regular departure time.

When he returned home from work, he walked into the living room wearing his bike helmet and a sheepish grin. I asked him as he walked past me on the way to the coat closet why he had that look on his face. After he put his helmet in the closet and poked his head around the corner, I immediately knew why. His gorgeous, to-die-for strawberry blond hair was gone, and in its place stood about a quarter-inch of prickly stubble! I wish I had a picture of the look on my face, because I can only imagine it to be quite humorous. Everything sort of slipped into slow motion as a hundred thoughts clicked through my head: Who is that grinning at me? Oh my gosh, he shaved his head! I can’t believe someone did that to him! I’m going to go there and complain! What a minute! It’s only hair it will grow back. And it looks … actually it looks pretty good. He looks grown up! Especially with that look of pride on his face.

Cameron made a decision, executed his decision, and was proud of the results. That made me completely proud of him. The next day, he decided to take his bike on the Metro so that he could get to a restaurant he had wanted to go to for lunch. From his lunch destination, he would ride his bike to a video arcade, and then take the Metro home. When he told me his plan, I was a little reluctant. After all, the thought of getting a bike down the escalators and on a crowded train causes my anxiety level to go up a notch or two. But that’s what 18-year-old boys do, right?

At dinner that evening, Cameron wasn’t just a part of the conversation, he was driving the conversation. He was downright chatty, telling us about his day unprompted, asking pertinent questions of others. Smiling. Chatty. Proud. I really and truly am the mother of an 18-year-old boy. Isn’t it great?