Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rides of Passage

There comes a time in every teenagers life when Mom is just tired of driving him around.  Not old enough for a driver's license yet.   But clearly old enough to want need to break out and do some exploring.  So what's a 14 year old guy to do?  The obvious answer?  Learn to ride the bus.

George the Younger embarked on his first solo SF Municipal transport adventure today.  I know.  Some may say that it's about damn time.  But, I'm a little protective of my chickens, and to be honest, George the Younger isn't generally much of a risk taker.  Getting home by himself = taking risks.  So, today I forced his hand.

He wanted to go to Japantown after summer school with some new buddies from The Hall.  Something tells me he completely anticipated me offering to come and pick him up when he was finished.  Instead, I told him he needed to get himself home.  George the Elder and I took bets this morning that he wouldn't go through with it.  Shock the shit out of me - - but he did it!

Japantown to our neighborhood requires a several block walk to the right street, catching the right bus, getting off at the right bus stop, finding the way to the underground muni station and getting on the correct outbound train.  He's done the train before by himself - - but the rest was a virgin voyage.  It would be stellar if I could say that he managed this journey solely on the single (albeit) very long text that I send him early this morning - - but still.  Thanks to three slightly panicked calls to me (which side of the street?  where is Geary?  What is downhill?  which train?  There's a fork in the road!!!  Which way do I go???  You said 3-4 blocks and it's past 4...), one call to Dad when I apparently did not answer the phone immediately (which side of the street does the bus come on?), and some help from a kind stranger when he found himself heading the wrong way while walking - - I finally got the text that said:  "I'm on the train"  Hurrah!

The most excellent news is that this route is the very same that he could take to school starting in the fall.  When I mentioned this, he looked aghast  - what do you mean you won't always drive me and pick me up when it's SCHOOL?  What he doesn't realize is that this cardinal expedition is the first baby step in his eventual ticket to freedom-from-mom.  This particular light will go on sometime in the middle of next year when he recognizes that my schedule no longer meets his need to hang out places with his buddies.  Or girls.

I'll admit that it's a trifle wistful on my part.  George the Younger is moving further out in to the world.  Taking the bus all by himself and finding his way home.  When he came in the door I gave him a big hug and congratulated him.  A hug containing both my joy and my heartache.  It's my job to make sure he only saw the joy.

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