Sometimes I feel like I do not know him at all.
We have reached that stage in our "relationship" where our "conversations" consist almost entirely of rhetorical questions followed by a series of sighs, hisses and grunts.
Q. Are you wearing your seatbelt? (He is not.)
A. Harsh sigh.
Q. Did you practice your violin today? (He did not.)
A. Hisssssss. Ugh.
Q. Are there wet towels on the floor of your room? (There are.)
Occasionally, he does initiate conversation:
"Mom. I need money."
Or: "What is there to eat?"
I cannot imagine how he keeps up his end of the nonstop texting and e-mail dialogues he has going with his friends. My mom is so annoying. Wut r u doing? There is nothing to eat here.
We come home to find him sprawled on the couch watching television with his laptop open, his earphones in and his fingers tapping across the cellphone keypad. A pile of snack wrappers is shoved into the bookcase behind him. He does not look up.
"He has built himself a cockpit," says Mr. Kamikaze.
"Did you take the garbage out like I asked you?" I begin. (He did not.) "Do you have homework?" (He does.) "Are you allowed to eat in the living room?" (He is not.)
This is where the parenting books would come in with advice to hold back on the interrogation and ask/text him about his day instead. Wut up? Or tell him how proud you are that he has managed to convert the living room into a telecommunications command center. We r prd of u. And we r. We really r.
But there is no manual for these years. If there were, I'd be scouring the index this week for "origami" and "pancake letters."
He is a strange, frustrating, uncooperative and interesting kid, who produces a mountain of laundry and perfect report cards, is costing us a fortune in electronics, music lessons and broken glass and recently took an interest in the Japanese art of paper folding. He dreams of pancakes.
A rainbow of paper flowers covers the coffee table. R those 4 me?
This week he turns 14. He says he is too old for birthday parties. He wants his name spelled out in pancakes instead. This is his idea of a joke. But he knows I will do it. That is what makes it so funny.