One of these days I am going to stop being surprised. Maybe.
I think my son is pretty awesome. I like everything about Stephen from his green eyes, snorty laugh and vague irreverences to the way he pauses, sometimes for a very long time, when you talk to him on the phone. I like his tender heart and his desire always for justice and to champion those in need of a champion. I like it that he does this without fear or much thought to the consequences. I like it that he invites learning and growth in his life, that he works hard at everything and that he has better boundries than me. Plus about a million other things.
From the time he was very young I have admired the way Stephen attracts, makes and keeps a really interesting, eclectic group of friends. As a student of child development I take this as a compliment of our parenting - it was probably just him, but I still like the credit. A sort of testimony of his ability to differentiate well. And maybe a tiny bit of a slam at those who told me years ago I would never raise emotionally healthy kids by educating them mostly at home. Take THAT, ye nay-sayers.
Yesterday some 50 of these friends held an Iron Chef competition, bought and cooked food, or came and paid to eat and judge the food. They sat and talked and laughed and ate. All in support Stephen's upcoming months in Africa.
It was fun to watch.
I overheard snatches of conversations concerning events and work and play. I saw looks and hugs and words exchanged that I know not the history or future of. There were jokes and stories and memories shared. Plans and dreams for tomorrow and next week and forever were discussed. I observed a community of thriving, creative, smart, fun, intense, passionate, authentic, diverse men and women in action.
I wasn't surprised. But I was surprised. Like maybe all parents are when they see what they've longed for happening and they realize it's time for the next season. (Insert a deep, cleansing breath here.)
At the end of the day these friends all cleaned up the kitchens together. At the end of the day they handed over an envelope with a significant amount of money inside. At the end of the day many surrounded him and prayed prayers of blessing, encouragement and hope.
At the end of the day Stephen had to sit down for a bit under the grateful weight of the honor of those blessings.
His mom did too.