ET Phone Home

Last week I felt like the mother in the commercial, where her son shows her a good report card, and she starts to cry. My son is growing up. He pulled up his grades. I wish he could do the same for his pants, but one thing at a time. We visited a college campus this past weekend. He was happy to find out the school was seventy percent female and he liked the food. I was happy thinking I'll have less laundry and that he was finally happy about going to school, any school. School was never easy for him. Not that the curriculum was a problem, the staying out of trouble was the hard part. He was always too bright for his own good. He got bored easily and boredom for little boys leads to lots of big boy trouble. I think every Principal he ever had kept my phone number on speed dial. I heard far too many times, on the other end of the line, "Is this Devaun's mother?" "Um, no. She went out to lunch. Can I tell her you called?" Okay, I didn't really say that but I wanted to. It's hard being a mother to a child whose I.Q. surpassed your own at age five and yet I'm supposed to know what to do with him. I knew we had a problem on his first day of Kindergarten. The teacher gave us a tour of the class and I could see his bright little face starting to frown. Those handsome dark eyebrows, that I loved, were knitting together and I knew he wasn't happy about what he saw. "We are going to learn to read in this class," said Miss Way Too Happy Teacher. Great. Does she realize I walked into my son's room last night, hoping to read him Happy Birthday Moon and found him reading my John Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Men? He rarely wanted stories anyway. He preferred running through his set of math flash cards before bed. Whew! I was lucky they had the answers printed on the back of the cards. "Then we will learn how to tell time," says the teacher as she pulled out a pretend clock, made from a paper plate, with black movable hands. I could see his disappointment growing. He had been telling time for over a year now. His older sister still relied on her digital watch for time telling and his mother, the microwave. I remember him asking me once "Mommy, how many miles to get to San Jose?" "Ninety miles," I replied. "Oh, so we should be there approximately one and a half hours from now. That is if we continue to go sixty miles per hour." Who is this kid really and what planet did his pod drop in from? I left my beautiful little boy with Miss Way Too Happy Teacher and a scared look on his face. That day was the start of many "He did what?" type of conversations on the phone. Once I took him out of school, for a mother and son road trip. He was ten. I was....none of your business. We drove to Oklahoma, all the way from California. Now that I think back, perhaps it wasn't a very good idea, to be a white woman driving with a black child through the South, but it all went well. As we were leaving California I remember pointing at a mountain and saying "Look! There's Mt. McKinley." He didn't even look up from his book and said "I highly doubt that, Mom. Mt. McKinley is in Alaska." I said "Really. Then what is it doing over there?" "That's Mt. Whitney," and he kept on reading his book. Hey, how am I supposed to keep the names of mountains and dead presidents straight? Recently, I was standing at the front door of my house. The kids were arguing and my arms were full. I was jiggling the door knob with one hand and holding my keys in the other. I kept pressing my cars automatic lock and unlock feature on my key chain, while getting frustrated that the front door wouldn't open. I honestly stood there shaking the door knob, to my house, and said "What is wrong with this thing? I just bought the damn car." He quietly reached over, took the keys from my hand and opened the front door...with the house key. Then he looked up to the sky, as if praying, or was he searching for the UFO that had accidentally left him, to come back and take him home, to his true mother. Over the past twelve years I grew to know all of the schools educators and administrators, much more than I would have liked. I have paced the floors, yelled, cried and replaced property damage. I have spent countless hours circling neighborhoods and calling friends houses, to look for him, and then cried and gave thanks when I found him. I didn't know what to do with him, but I am not looking forward to learning how to do life without him. Maybe I'll be lucky and this six foot three extraterrestrial will remember to "phone home". Hey, maybe I'm the one who is really an alien. After all, my initials are E.T.