Making Out: 18 Wishes

Making Out is a series centered on how Jess Burnquist, mother, writer, and teacher is "making out' as she processes adolescent issues amid the glare of parenthood and the shadows of nostalgia.

The author and her son

My son was my first child-wish granted. For months, next to the window with a view of the elm on Bendix Drive, the moon rose in time with a glider chair. Rocking him to sleep, I wondered who he would become. His spirit was just emerging—ponderous, no nonsense, sharp-witted, deeply introspective, and loving beyond measure.

These characteristics persist like a motif in the layers and layers of the young man he has and is continuing to become.

What else persists? The gleam in his eye before a joke is quipped, his sideways upturned grin when he knows he’s been caught red handed, hands like his father’s and a temper like mine.

Ambition, too.

We have replaced glider-moon rock-a-byes with late-night discussions about justice, and streams of political texts give me glimpses of his newer, more independent self. I’m so excited to say that I really like him. He’s an endless granting of wishes, but I have specific hopes for him as he enters this next phase—the one that thrills and terrifies and seems to require some kind of double vision of then and now.

Maybe others have similar wishes for their children—no matter their age. All I know is that I’ve put 18 years into this parenting gig and pausing long enough to articulate my wishes feels right. You can bet that I’ll make him read this in front of me. I wager that he calls me mommy when he’s done, too. I hope so.

18 Wishes for My Son’s 18th Year and Future

I wish him joy found in the smiles and laughter of his family because of something he has said or done and the knowledge that we are his most trusted and appreciative audience.

May he know resilience in the short-term sting of failure.

I wish him sound sleep and the gratitude of waking.

May his desire to learn always persist.

I wish him success that never comes at the expense of his values.

I wish for him a love that will challenge him to find an angle he hadn’t considered.

May he keep his temper in check when it matters most, and let if fly when he should.

May he miss and look forward to seeing his sister.

I wish for him friends who like to think as much as they like to play.

I wish for him to never be drafted.

I wish for him to seek equality in all circumstances—except for group projects—he should get what he gives.

May he have adventure after adventure and the desire to share each one with me, late at night on the phone, or over coffee at our kitchen counter.

I wish for him a continuous beautiful father/son relationship.

I wish for him music that stops him in his tracks.

May he discover art that says what he didn’t know he meant.

I wish for him to see himself through my eyes that are not critical, nor fear-filled--just so proud.

I wish for him sound sleep and screen-less days.

I wish for him more vegetables.

And, I wish him one more for luck as is our tradition. When he was a toddler, he went through a phase of asking me to dance with him to the song “Beautiful Day” by U2. I can still feel his small hands gripping mine and see the way the room whirled, blurred like time. May he always think of me when he hears that song. He has given me such clarity and just about 18 years worth of beautiful days. Those other less than stellar days seem to have dimmed in the shine that is my son.

About Jess