I'm not someone who likes change. I have had the furniture in my living room for twenty years. I bought it with Ed early in our marriage. I have been meaning to get it recovered for the past five years. It shows you how fast I move. I wasn't ready for my son to have a girlfriend and everything that meant. Is any mother ever ready to relinquish her place as first in their child's heart? I wasn't.
I told Tom, who digested the news with a calm nod. It made me suspicious. I asked if he had known that anything was going on between Wolfie and his daughter's friend, Liv. I emphasized Liv's relationship to Andie not to remind him of who this girl was but to instead put him on notice that everything that happened between them from here on out was his fault. He understood and shook his head no.
"You can't do that to me," he said.
"Yes I can," I said.
"I'll find out what's going on," he said.
"Good idea," I said.
Like a dutiful soldier in the age-old battle of parents vs. children, Tom reported back that Wolfie was indeed tight with Liv. I felt a little like an editor at a tabloid magazine. But so what. I wanted to know everything Tom had found out. According to his source, they had been texting and talking on the telephone for months. Wolfie had fallen into "deep like" with this pretty girl, and from the information Tom had turned up, she felt the same way about him.
"So it's all good," Tom said,
"All good?" I asked.
"I wonder if they've kissed," he said, ignoring me.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"I don't want to know if they've kissed or anything else," I said.
"You don't?" he asked. "Now's the time when you want to know everything. Well, not everything. But you want to know what's going on."
"I hate it when you're right."
Late that afternoon, Wolfie phoned home and reported on dinner at Liv's. His voice was upbeat and I could hear that he was happy, very happy. Wolfie's willingness to talk was a surefire indicator of his moods. When his voice was soft and he used words as sparingly as a nomad would drink water in the desert, I knew there was trouble. Now I couldn't shut him up. He told me everything Liv's mother had served for dinner and every bit of conversation at the table.
It was a little overboard even for him. I wanted to ask, are you really my kid?
"And guess what?" he asked.
"They invited me to sleep over after dinner. Can I?"
"I don't think it's a good idea," I said.
"Wolfie, it's very nice of Liv and her family to want you to sleep at their house. But you have a hotel room and a show the next day. I'm sure Dad's going to want you there."
Grudgingly, he agreed. I was sure his willingness to listen to me stemmed from the newness of this relationship and the other circumstances of his living situation. I reminded myself that he had called to ask my permission rather than decide on his own, which was the way I had tried to raise him. When you don't know something, ask someone for advice, preferably your parent—and that's just what he'd done. But I wondered how long he would continue to listen to me. I was a year younger than he was when I got involved in my first serious romance and I worked myself into a full steam of anxiety remembering what I had done and not told my parents.