When Your Kid Texts You a Thank You Note
My husband and I visited with my son and his adoptive family in New Jersey for a couple days the last week of December. That visit was, no doubt, the genesis for this blog. Our adoption has been open for some time, and it has evolved into a good relationship on all sides. Didn’t start that way, exactly – but more on that later.
Eric and his parents attended our wedding on St. Patrick’s Day 2011, and I attended his high school graduation in June 2013.
But then he grew up and got a little distant. Like all kids do. It didn’t help that Kathy, his mom, told me he seemed to be struggling a bit, emotionally, with “all the adoption stuff.” I tried, as delicately and considerately as possible, to let him know – directly and through his mom – that if he had any questions or ever wanted to talk, I was always available. I had nothing to hide, and no topics or questions were off the table. He never took me up on the offer.
So I was a bit apprehensive when I told Kathy we’d be in the Tri-State Area to visit my husband’s sister for the holidays, and it would be nice to see Eric and his family if that was a possibility. I needn’t have worried at all. He’s 22 now, a beautiful young man with a kind heart and generous spirit. And our visit was nothing less than delightful. We got to meet and get to know his girlfriend, who is also lovely.
It’s an interesting coincidence that Eric was born on February 24th, the same day as Steve Jobs, who also was adopted. I think Bruce, Eric’s dad, wears that as a badge of honor, even though it was literally an accident of birth that none of us could have predicted.
During our holiday, my husband and I were tooling around northern New Jersey, visiting the small towns he’d lived in as a child, and we stopped in Ridgewood for lunch one afternoon. On our way back to our rental car, we passed an indie bookstore called Bookends and, bibliophiles that we are, we wandered in. There were many interesting books – lots of them autographed by the authors. One biography in particular caught my attention: Steve Jobs – The Man Who Thought Different. I grabbed the only copy they had and gave it to Eric when we returned to his folks’ house later that afternoon.
I’ll admit I was a bit sad when Eric told me a few years back that he very seldom reads for pleasure because his college prep high school drummed all the joy out of it with their heavy list of boring required reading. Part of the reason I thought he might like this Steve Jobs book was because it was a real biography, but it was also heavy on the photos.
Tonight I received a text message from him: Thank you for the Steve Jobs book. I just finished reading it. Was really good – may even rekindle my love of reading.
Funny how such little things can have such a profound impact. I’m just so pleased that (a) he liked the book and (b) he took the time to say thanks, something he hasn’t done all that much of over the years. Some people would be incensed by that, but it’s actually mostly been OK with me, as no one would ever give me an award for timely thankyou notes.
Many years ago, when Eric was maybe in fourth or fifth grade, he went to work with his mom one day and sent me an email from her account. I don’t remember the details of the message – it was lost in a computer crash. But I was over the moon, as it was the first time he had initiated any contact with me. Giddy doesn’t begin to describe the feeling. I think it took a couple days for my feet to come back down to the ground.
That’s kind of how I felt two weeks ago, getting to spend time with him and his family. He’s just developed into such an amazing kid. He’s in his senior year at Northeastern University in Boston, majoring in environmental/civil engineering. At the one family dinner we shared with him, Eric explained a bit about his process for choosing Northeastern. He and his dad had gone to tour a number of schools in Boston, and Eric found himself paying particular attention to the demeanor of the students on the various campuses. Immediately he rejected a couple of schools, simply because none of the students looked even remotely happy. That’s a pretty significant level of awareness for an 18-year-old. And I couldn’t have been happier or prouder to hear him describe this thoughtfulness.
The text messages tonight, following so closely on the heels of such a nice visit, indicate to me that we may be on our way to a bit more of a regular connection. But it’s OK if that’s not the case. He gets to call the shots for the moment – my hope is that I’ve offered enough outreach so that he knows I’m here without feeling pressured to do anything other than what works for him right now. In the meantime, I’ll just be sitting here smiling to myself.