My son got in the car and didn't say anything as I picked him up from school yesterday.
This is normal, because he is going through one of those adolescent phases of rebelliousness that drive parents crazy. Still, I miss the days when he would pepper me with questions about sports, history, politics, or music as we tooled around.
Adolescence has been tough on this kid. He is gangly, brilliant, aloof, sensitive, and angry. Always a bit of an outsider, his quirkiness has sometimes made him the target of juvenile taunts, and he has trouble responding in a socially-acceptable fashion. Lately he has been getting into physical altercations with his tormentors, and this has caused him to run afoul of the school administrators.
Needless to say, he and I have been butting heads over his school performance, so Dad has been added to the list of people his melodramatic teenage mind is rebelling against. Thus, the silent treatment in the car.
One small source of friction for us is the car radio. He likes to station-surf, and prefers alternative rock, punk, and hard edged bands like Underoath and AFI. I prefer to listen to the classic rock and oldies stations, and he will often turn off a song I enjoy in search of something he prefers.
Occasionally, though, a song pops up that engages both of our musical tastes, and yesterday the Nirvana song "Come as You Are" was the first tune he came across. This is a bleak, sometimes angry song that was perhaps the true essence of Kurt Cobain.
My son sang along with Cobain, and I chimed in with the harmony vocals as I drove:
And I swear that I don't have a gun
No, I don't have a gun.
While I might have chosen a more upbeat song to make a connection with my angst-filled kid, I was thankful for the opportunity to be able to share something with him, even a musical work that paints such a dreary picture.
And, though no words were directly passed between us, the tension from the arguments of the past few days visibly lessened. He still looked out the window, but his gaze seemed momentarily less sullen.
Or maybe we just read whatever we want into a ten-minute car trip, lost in our own thoughts.