When my kids were little they stalked me. They followed me from room to room, they banged on the bathroom door and almost never left my side. Sometimes I loved it, sometimes it made me mental, and sometimes I worried they would never successfully separate. I wondered why they wanted to be with me so much, stalking day and night. I thought it might be a little like our Labrador who follows me around every evening hoping to be fed. Yet they still seemed to want to be with me even after they knew how to open the refrigerator door. Now I find, it is me, stalking my kids.
Sometimes I would say to them, why do you want to come with me? I realized that whatever I was doing would be slowed down by their presence and when I was in a hurry, I felt frustration. But they wanted to be with me, even if the task was tedious, and irrelevant to them. If I just wanted to roam, they wanted to know where we were going. I loved being with them, loved everything about their presence, but their questions could wear me out. They seemed happy just to be with me.
Then it struck me. They wanted my life. They wanted to be able to go where they wanted and do what they wanted. They wanted to call the shots and be the person who made things happen, even if it was just going to the grocery store or, on a good day, Toys R Us.
Now they have that life. Two are grown, out the door, and the third is in possession of a driver’s license. The eldest has an apartment for the summer and the middle one left days ago to squat on his brother’s couch and soak in the City Life.
And now I find I want to stalk my kids. I want to be 21 years old and see New York City anew. I want to live in an apartment with almost no belongings and hold impromptu parties on Friday nights feeling no compulsion to provide my guests with anything other than cheap beer.
So last night I was stalking them. With the feeble excuse of bringing some extra sheets for the couch surfing brother, I drove into NY to see them. I followed them from room to room looking at the apartment, I talked to one through the bathroom door and helped carry garbage to the downstairs. I wandered the building’s basement and asked where the laundry room was and if the closed door was a gym. I asked about work being done in the hall and why they had left the air conditioner on when they went out. They looked at each other, with an expression that could only have said, “This would have been faster without her.”
When we left the apartment it was late and dark and I asked where we were going. I was told, “We will find something, Mom.” We stopped at a small take-out and picked up falafel and humus. We wandered over to a teeming Union Square with bags of wonderful smelling food. All the benches were full and my kids sat themselves down on some steps. The ground was dirty, my pants were white and I had a handbag that I would not have set down on my own clean kitchen floor. The air was sticky and humid and teens swirled around us on the skateboards. The person next to me was blowing smoke in my direction and there were buses idling on the road nearby emitting noxious fumes. But I was just happy to be with them.
photo credit (above): Tasayu Tasnaphun