It's chilly and rainy, an October morning on the North Shore. I pull up to John's school.
"See ya, man," I say, turning around to make sure he grabs his backpack and jacket.
"I'm not going to wave to you when I go to school anymore," he says nonchalantly. Not even nonchalantly. He says it like he would say, "I have music class today."
"OK," I say, and this is when I remember the days when I would drop him off and he would say, "Mom! MOM! I'm going to race you to the door as you drive off! Mom! Don't drive until I'm ready to race, OK? OK?" and how that would annoy me because I wanted to start my day, and I realize once again that payback comes when you're least ready for it, and it sucks right up and down.
He gets out of the car and I have to admit I wait a bit to see if he's going to give me the adolescent chin wave, a sort of reverse nod, which is what he had been doing as a third grader. He would make eye contact and lift his chin slightly: "Hey." A week ago I resented that, now I would love to see it one more time.
Instead, he runs to the front steps of the school, his jeans a little baggy, his hair too long, wearing my alma mater sweatshirt, conspicuously not making eye contact. I signal and pull out into the street. I look back one more time, and that's when I see it -- he reaches the door, cuts his eyes to me, and smiles slightly.