It is such an odd thing. He comes and goes like a dream.
This is not the way of most thirteen-year-old boys. The healthy and the happy ones stay, mostly. Sure, they go for short periods of time. Sleep-away camp. Sleep overs with friends. School trips. Visits to Grandmas and Grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins.
But their home is with their parents, their siblings, their dogs or their cats. Their neighborhood is theirs to roam. They feel comfortable in it. Their community -- the one in which their house sits and their parents pay taxes -- opens its arms to them.
Not my boy. He had to go a hundred miles from here to find a community that would open its arms to him. To find a home that was not bounded by four walls, and companionship that was not always and only his mother.
If the cost was seeing Lars and Saskia and the Hellacious Hound and me only twice a month, it was worth it to all of us. I know he misses us. He misses this little house and the butterscotch couch and the trampoline out back. He misses sleeping in his own bed.
But what I have not quite figured out is, which home is his REAL home? Ours? The one he flits in and out of like a dream? Or the one that lies a hundred miles from here, where his friends also live, as does the large staff that helps him navigate life and learning? The one that comes with the three people who love him more than the world, or the one where he can access just about everything he wants to do, and feel successful?
Readers, it is not just that this school has a working farm on it, and lap-bunnies in the classrooms. This is a place that can offer Benjy things like golf (yes, he goes every week to a golf course. He is learning and loving the game). And on-site batting cages. Tennis and swimming right outside his door. Access to a gym where he can lift weights. A ropes course. 3-D printers that will let him create all kinds of cool stuff. A fly-fishing pond a short drive from his current house, and just behind the house he would like to move into (and is self-advocating a strong case for said move).
I could go on and on. But it will just confuse me more. I don't know for sure which home is Ben's real home now, but I am so glad he has them both.
He's coming here tomorrow for his first two-night stay since he left us in early July. To say I'm excited would be an understatement. I'm a little scared, too. But Lars and I have a plan. We're going to keep him active the whole time. After school he plays football and Frisbee and tennis, or goes to the gym or the golf course. Here, he will get to go kayaking, play tennis, do some archery, maybe teach his younger cousins how to throw a football with just the right spin. We're going to have him plan some meals and help cook them. He is going to eat good food.
Most of all, we are going to love him and keep him as close as we should, but no closer. If I had my way I'd just hold him the entire 48 hours, but that is not, apparently, what you do with a happy and healthy 13 year old.
He's not cured. He will live with what he's got his whole life -- just like I do. And so many others, too. But he is learning to manage his Homeric catalogue of Hard Things. What a gift that is, to all of us.