Friday, October 3, 2008

The Backhoe

I saw a backhoe on my way to work today. This is not an unusual thing, mind you. The main street near my house is under construction. But, I was struck by the image of this backhoe, as it pushed a larger, extra bucket (that's the technical term for the shovel) along the ground in front of it with the smaller bucket attached to its arm. It looked almost alien in its form; giant, yellow and dirty. Yet, there was a familiarity of movement to it; like an arm with a hand, shooing a child outside to play.

In struggling to make sense of why the image struck me and stayed with me, I was reminded of the arguments I have been having with my son recently. He's 16 and, boy, he just needs to get on with his life, let me tell you. He knows everything, just ask him. Katie Couric would quail in the presence of such logic and knowledge! (OK...I am being sarcastic.)

But, really, he is a huge young man at 6' 2" and 280 pounds and while he is smart, he is so young and so undermotivated. There is so much he does not know or understand about life, but yet, he plows on, making his choices (good and bad). His father and I are just trying to make it through those last couple of years of raising him. We point him toward the future and he seems ready to go, but he still needs that push in the back, "No, this way, son."

Like that backhoe, a gentle shove is all that is needed to move the object. Any more force and the bucket could be sent careening into traffic and harm someone. There are days when I want to give that boy a good shove out of the nest, but then I remember, that despite the fact that he looks like a full-grown man, he is still just a kid. Too hard a shove might send him into the wide world unprepared and it might hurt him. So, I pull back and push, ever-so-gently, in the proper direction.

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