Fifteen isn’t easily impressed. The details of my teaching and writing, his father’s doctoring, his little brother’s imaginary battles for world dominance – these things rate a nod, maybe a raised eyebrow, but no more. To offer more might be interpreted as enthusiasm, and fifteen doesn’t do emotional histrionics.
He does, however, do opinions. Specializes in them, actually, and as he’s come of age with a cell phone in his hand, Fifteen’s lifelong verbal reticence has been supplanted by the convenience and emotional remove of the text. Texting allows Fifteen to voice his feelings and opinions everywhere, all the time, a sarcastic Greek chorus of one.
When a recent marital debate took a nasty turn into discord, my pocket began to vibrate. I suspected some sort of alert, a flood warning or approaching electrical storm, but no, it was just Fifteen, texting color commentary on our respective arguments from the next room.
When the fighting is over, and peace is restored, Fifteen rolls his eyes at our displays of affection and tolerates our need for hugs, but we are to understand that he does initiate that sort of sappy nonsense. Fifteen’s particular brand of affection is served up dry, with a dash of wit and superiority. And like any great chef, he metes it out in tasting portions, just enough to delight, never enough to fully satisfy.
When discourse sneaks over the line from affectionate into mushy during three-way text conversations, Fifteen offers subtle cues that he's maxed out, and would like to be excused, thank you very much.
However, despite all appearances, Fifteen loves me. Of that I am certain. His displays may be rare, but they are all around me, all the time. I feel it when he’s playing guitar in the kitchen, and switches from his favorite song to one he knows I adore. I hear it when he talks about his English class, and the unexpected realization that he, too, likes poetry.
And then, when I’m most hungry for it, he lets me see it as well, offering up an abundant feast right before my eyes.