Here’s how I spent Valentine’s Day: driving my 15 year old son all over the Victoria area, delivering him to appointments and helping him with a number of errands. We started out around 9 am, which is pretty early for a 15-year old on a Saturday morning. He wandered down the stairs, bleary-eyed and still rumpled from sleep, and gave me a big hug. He has always been cuddly and I love that at 15, he still deigns to hug his mom. He had a quick breakfast and then began his work for the day.
And he does have work to do. In September, his rugby team is going on tour to England and Wales during the Rugby World Cup. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. He’ll be playing against other schoolboy sides, but he’ll also get to attend a couple of World Cup games. One of the ways he’s raising money is by recycling bottles for family and friends. It is sticky (and stinky!) work, but surprisingly lucrative. And he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to raise the money for this trip.
My boy discovered rugby a couple of years ago, when he played on his middle school’s team. Within months, he had forsworn his first love, soccer, and dedicated himself completely to his new passion. When September rolled around that year, he walked away from years of soccer, and signed up for club rugby. It didn’t matter that he was the least experienced player on the team. It didn’t matter that he spent most of that first season on the sidelines. It didn’t matter that the closest club team was a forty minute drive from home. He loved the game. He loved the camaraderie of the team, the loyalty. He loved this “game of thugs, played by gentlemen.”
He applied himself to learning the game, everything from passing the ball to tackling to kicking. He practiced hard and spent countless hours with Will, who is a rugby coach, and on his own, learning to kick for conversion. By the time the next school season came around, he had the skill and the quiet confidence to captain his school team through a strong season. By July, he made the team that represented the lower island at the provincial championships.
Along the way we have all watched proudly, awed by his determination and focus. We’ve cheered him on from the sidelines, driven him back and forth to at least three practices and one game a week, washed his stinky gear, and replaced countless mouth guards. (If only I had known, I would have invested in a company producing mouth guards). And on Valentine’s Day, I spent my day driving him around yet again, another day in service to rugby. We loaded up the van with our empties, then headed to a friend’s to pick up their empties too. From there, we hit the recycling depot where we sorted and recycled the bottles, and then raced across town to get my boy to the gym for a workout. From the gym, we had to go to the bank, so he could transfer money for his trip into my bank account, and then off to the sporting goods store to purchase – you guessed it – a new mouth guard.
For years, I’d see those bumper stickers that read, “Mom’s Taxi,” and dread the day when that would be my life. Well, that time has come. But here is what I didn’t realize, the secret of every mother of a busy teenager: being “Mom’s Taxi” is actually a privilege. I am happy to drive, because my boy, at 15, is so busy in his life, that if I weren’t driving him, I would hardly see him. Driving him around, I have precious time with him, time to check in and talk, time to listen to his stories, time to laugh and connect. The teenage years are fleeting and so I’m savouring this time with my boy. Even if most of it is on the highway.