A TRIP TO “BOYHOOD”

OFF TO CAMP.

OFF TO CAMP.

Boyhood. I called my California son after watching it and asked, “I was a better mother than her wasn’t I? No drunken daddies.” “Yes,” he said, “You were, mom.” But he may have been leaning toward the kind side by not mentioning the things his parents had in common with the Boyhood parents—not all them in my favor—many in his dad’s. Not all of them in either of our favors.

Where do I start? Boyhood felt so personal to me. My two kids are boys but since the movie is all about a boy growing up I’m leaving the girl out of my emotional equation for now.

My sons will enjoy Boyhood for the ‘boy’ adventures and traumas and joys that are theirs alone. It took me down my own memory lane….

My boys’ Boyhood.

Mom forever in college. Dad away a lot in the Air Force. Divorce. Dad disappears for awhile, mom does too much work, school, politics. Boys are NOT neglected. Maybe. ARE neglected. Maybe. Depends on who’s counting I guess.

There’s a golden moment in my mind’s eye. Steve is all blonde smarty-pants 10-year-old. He’s washing whatever old car we had at the time. The couch where I’m sitting faces the screen door so I can glance up from my book and see him washing and spraying and playing. He is golden in the sun haloed by wet sparkles. Yelling, “Hey mom, look at the car, good job huh?” I wrote this image down in one of those journals I was forever keeping. The me concerned about jobs and politics and always more school and sometimes boyfriends and always always money—and sometimes the boys and their boyhood got lost in that silly shuffle.

Moments and memories as I watched Boyhood. Why didn’t I forgo the me angst and spend a lot more time washing the car with this boy, plodding through homework with that boy, more energy on and pleasure in the minutia of the daily family grind, less on whether McGovern got elected?  .

About the Boyhood dad and my kids’ dad. Quite a bit in common there too. Both of them full of fun and games. Great companions for their sons. When they were present. Both of them essentially very good guys who loved their kids a lot. Too much in absentia perhaps…but big love nevertheless.

So what is it about these moms and this dads? All of us who identified with Boyhood? I am sad for the families that could have been—but not for what they may have turned into without that partings of the ways. We will never know which was which.

That Boyhood boy and my boys have survived rather nicely it seems. Both because of us and in spite of us. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for consuming all that mac and powdered cheese and for not turning into Republicans when they were coerced into distributing campaign literature and for putting up with a mom too often following her own pursuits to do justice to homework and sit-down meals.

The boys in my life turned into outstanding human beings, very nearly perfect fathers and sons and responsible citizens of the world. So I guess boyhoods can be survived with just barely enough help from moms and dads who are only pretty good. B- perhaps.

The other mom-of-sons coming to the Oscar night party tomorrow night is bringing macaroni and cheese in honor of Boyhood. We laughed when I said ‘not Kraft’ but I think I’ll call her today and suggest that to pay honest tribute to our boys’ boyhoods it indeed must be Kraft.

FLORIDA BOY

FLORIDA BOY SCOTT

STEVEN ON HIS WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE.

STEVEN ON HIS WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE.

SCOTT AND HIS FRIEND MELISSA IN THE PHILIPPINES.

SCOTT AND HIS FRIEND MELISSA IN THE PHILIPPINES.

STEVEN ON A BAD HAIR DAY.

STEVEN ON A BAD HAIR DAY.

SCOTT'S DAD BROUGHT A PYTHON HOME FROM SOMEWHERE.

SCOTT’S DAD BROUGHT A PYTHON HOME  AND STEVEN NEVER CHANGED HIS SOCKS AT CAMP.

STEVEN WENT TO CAMP AGAIN. AND NEVER CHANGED HIS SOCKS.

THEY GREW HANDSOME.

THEY GREW HANDSOME.

AND GENERALLY STAYED OUT OF TROUBLE.

AND GENERALLY STAYED OUT OF TROUBLE.

SPENT SOME TIME WITH GRANDMA AND GRANDPA.

SPENT SOME TIME WITH GRANDMA AND GRANDPA.

SCOTT, BACKYARD ON JEFFERSON, OUR BEST HOUSE.

SCOTT, BACKYARD ON JEFFERSON, OUR BEST HOUSE.

STEVEN FRONT YARD. GOOD-LOOKING GUYS, YES?

STEVEN FRONT YARD. GOOD-LOOKING GUYS, YES?

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FAST FORWARD AND HERE WE ARE IN 2013 OR 2014. A GATHERING OF THE WHOLE CLAN. (We had a professional photographer who may have gone a bit overboard airbrushing out our flaws, not that we have that many!)

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