If it had been possible, I might have flown to Kansas and brought Wolfie back home for the night. I had the urge to have my little boy back, the one who used to look at me with blind devotion and raise his arms high in the air and say, "Mama up!" I didn't want to think about him having a girlfriend and all the complications that might ensure. But as Tom reminded me when he got home, this wasn't about me. Even though I wasn't ready for him to have a girlfriend, he was and I would have to deal with it.
"I supposed that's why God invented M&Ms and potato chips," I said, jokingly.
"No," Tom laughed. "But I think it's why He invented the phone, the video camera, iChat, private detectives, and so on."
Luckily for me, within a few days, Tom and I visited Wolfie on tour. The trip had been planned months earlier, so it didn't seem like I was checking up on him. Though delighted to see us, Wolfie still needed a little time to adjust to having his mom out there with him. I understood. I upset the routine he got into of studying during the day, going to soundcheck, performing, eating dinner late, and then staying up even later as he wound down from the show.
It wasn't exactly the day of a normal sixteen-year-old. But that's the reason I visited as frequently as I did. I thought whatever facsimile of family time I could manufacture would be better than none.
On this trip, though, I had questions. I asked the obvious mom-type questions before the show. I didn't ask about Liv until the show was finished and we were back at the hotel, playing cards in the two-bedroom suite Wolfie shared with Matt. Wolfie was much more relaxed than he had been prior to the show, which I reminded myself made sense considering he had many things on his mind before performing onstage in front of twenty thousand people. Finally, I asked how dinner at Liv's had been. All of a sudden he perked up. His eyes opened wide and he began to recount the dinner in the same detail as he had on the phone. Except this time, in the course of telling me the story, he mentioned that he liked Liv.
"Oh, really?" I said, drawing on thirty-six years of acting experience to deliver that note of nonchalant curiosity.
"Yeah," he said. "The way I felt about her last summer . . ."
"You liked her last summer?" I interrupted.
"Now it's not the same, you know?"
"Good for you," I said. "She's a very nice girl."
"Really nice," he said.
We spent Thanksgiving with my parents and brother, Pat, and his wife, Stacy, in Arizona. Wolfie was there with us, regaling everyone with stories from the road and catching up with Tom's son, Tony, and friends. After the holiday, Liv flew in and stayed with us for a week. I was more nervous than she appeared to be; in fact, I had to remind myself that I was the parent, not the girlfriend visiting the boyfriend's family. The problem was, I didn't know how to play my role, whether to be strict or cool or super cool or what.
Pretty quickly I figured out that I really liked Liv, who impressed me as a mature and together young woman. I could tell that she had been raised properly. She was considerate and well-mannered. When she arrived, I had her put her suitcase in Wolfie and Tony's room and made it clear the two boys would sleep in the plush tour bus parked in front of the house. She thanked me for allowing her to visit.