My son's a handsome kid. He looks just like his father did when he was 18. But Elijah isn't at all like his father in personality. My son is the rebel, the larrakin, the party animal and the social butterfly. He's forever out on dates, going to gatherings with his friends, or bringing someone over to visit.
We did hard yards with Elijah at 14. I found a half-bottle of vodka behind his bed; and then he snuck out one night depsite being grounded. I'm sure that's when my hair began to turn grey. His schooling suffered, there were whispers about all manner of girls. In the end there was nothing left but to confront him and try to discuss the evils of life and the choices he made. All manner of harsh words came from Elijah's mouth, but I found one small mercy. He promised me he would never drive drunk and never get a girl pregnant. I think in the end I had a choice between granting some leeway or seeing my son's back disappear over the horizon forever. So we relaxed the rules and set a neat boundary, and from there at least the schooling improved.
I think we were fortunate that he got that out of the way at 14. You hear of families torn to shreds when a kid first goes wild at 18. My son's over all of that. As he puts it, beer belongs at a barbecue, easy girls are boring in bed, and there's plenty of time to party after the homework is finished. Nobody could ever accuse him of mincing words.
So he surprised us a great deal by announcing his intention to buy a motorbike.
My husband put his foot down. I think it was a moment of amnesia; he should have known what Elijah would do if he were forbidden. My son was 18, after all; I could express my disappointment, highlight the dangers, explain the risks, but I knew he'd do as he wished in the end. So I said very little while father and son traded abuse and ranted loudly enough to rattle the doors. It went on for hours.
And hours. Those two could talk underwater.
But this morning neither of them had anything to say. They stared at each other for the longest time. I watched them and wondered who would break the silence first. But nothing was said. My husband reached out and took our son's hand.
His arm was attached to a drip; his shattered leg in plaster from hip to toe; his other arm in a cast and strapped to his chest; his face cut and bruised and bandaged, and yet Elijah smiled. And then he started to speak. "Dad."
"Get rid of the bike."