There used to be an alien in my house. He didn’t have super large, glowing eyes or six legs. He didn’t peel off his skin at night to expose a translucent body. And he didn’t feed himself through a hole in his nose.
But he did change moods quite frequently. In fact, from one second to the next he had been known to go from laughing uncontrollably to screaming at the top of his lungs and slamming doors. He communicated in a non-verbal language that consisted of rolling eyes, shoulder shrugs and an occasional grunt seasoned with words like “whatever” and “yeah.” And he inhaled food as if it were going to evaporate before it reached his mouth.
If you have one of these creatures living in your home, you know I’m referring to the teenage boy. More specifically, the teenage boy not old enough to drive but too old to be seen with Mom in the car while being chauffeured around town.
“Drop me off here, Mom. Stop. That’s close enough.” God forbid he should be seen in the car with a real live mother.
His hormones raged through his body like a roller coaster, turning him into a virtual alien unable to relate to the rest of his perfectly normal family.
He could devour a package of cookies, two pot pies and a burrito, and drink a quart of milk before dinner and then complain there was nothing left to eat in the house.
He left bowls of Jell-O under his bed to develop into fungal specimens that no living creature should be forced to breathe.
He was the center of his foreign world and completely misunderstood by everyone else in it.
As the years passed, I accepted his membership in this alien existence. I watched him grow to my height and beyond, as he grew out of his footie pajamas and into jeans. I listened as he went from the Muppets singing “Sesame Street” to watching rappers dancing in the street.
I went from bathing his imaginary friends to reminding him to shower before going to school.
And it was all okay, really. Except at the time I was having trouble remaining myself as he went through his transformation into manhood.
The sight of his strewn about clothes, at an empty package of my favorite crackers, at one of his innocent shrugs and that roll of the eyes, and I would go totally berserk.
I would look at myself in the mirror and see an alien face. What was happening to me? I would scream uncontrollably. Rant and rave, making no sense at all.
Logically, I could understand it.
He had reached that point in his life whey my memories began. I could remember those heartaches. The sight of that pimple the day of a big date. The phone calls into the night. The rapid heartbeat as the boy I had a crush on walked by without giving me a glance. The indecision, insecurity and that ever-present drive.
I was once there myself. But that alone was not enough to help.
A “Thank you, Mom,” a kiss on the cheek and an “I love you” would have been nice.
And you know what?
It did happen. When I would least expect it, he would plant a soft kiss on my cheek. Of course, the next minute he was once again communicating with that spaceship.
Sometimes, I would pray for them to take him away. Let him grow up, I would plead, and then bring him back. Taller, wiser, with kids of his own.
Eventually, it happened. He grew up.
I walked into his empty room and listened to the sounds he left behind. That beep, beep of the video game. The whisperings late at night. The heavy bass pulsating against the doorway.
Standing there, in the center of what once his world, I realized it all happened way too quickly.
He passed through those memories of mine and has moved on to new ones. Some that I have lived through, others that I have not.
He is also getting what he deserves. An alien now lives in his house, eating all his food and slumping around as if nobody gets what’s going on in his life.
But you know what?
My alien loves that child as much as I love him.
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