Jackson and Jerry met at age 2 and spent the next 11 years glued together at the hip. Sure they went to different schools, but they spent every possible moment--that they weren't in school or doing homework--together. In the last year, however, Jackson has become more involved in school and school friends. He's been more difficult to get together with, and for the second year in a row Jackson made other plans for Halloween even though the two of them have a tradition of trick or treating together. So that's been hard on Jerry. He feels like Jackson is "dumping" him. I've been trying to figure out if Jackson is feeling like he and Jerry don't share the same interests anymore or if he really is just busy, and then the other day Jerry tells me Jackson has a girlfriend. Well, that explains it! So, Jackson has a girlfriend. Strike one.
Then there's Yulia. Yulia is the only person from our homeschool group that Jerry really clicked with. And boy did they click. They met a little over a year ago and formed a fast friendship. These two totally speak the same language. When he found out Yulia was moving, Jerry was devastated and since she moved to Texas (at the end of September) Jerry has really missed her. Strike two.
Then there's Shea. We met Shea when Jerry was homescholing in kindergarten, then lost touch when Jerry started school the following year. But in the past year Shea and Jerry have rekindled their friendship and it's been really great because Shea lives two minutes from our house. I love that I can just bop over and pick him up for last minute play dates. Well, I found out yesterday that Shea's family is moving--to Portland!!! Strike three!!
What is happening here!? Why is the universe conspiring to take all Jerry's friends away? Can somebody please cut the kid a break? I know he'll be gaining valuable life lessons from all this. Blah, blah, blah. But really? Does it all have to happen at once? He's having a hard enough time sorting out how he feels about Yulia leaving. And Jackson having a girlfriend. And now Shea will be going, too? Come on!
I know we can visit them. I know they'll have e-mail and Facebook. But Jerry needs some live, in-the-flesh friends that live in Los Angeles (preferably on the Eastside). Where the heck are all the anime and manga loving, video game playing, computer hacking teens around here? I know they've got to be out there. And I know some of them have got to be homeschooling.
But that's not really the problem. I'm sure Jerry will find other friends. He's already started developing a couple new friendships that I can encourage. The problem is they aren't his old friends. And he wants the old ones.
I can't stop thinking of the Billy Collins poem "On Turning Ten." Jerry's obviously older than ten, but I think he must be experiencing some of the same feelings. It breaks my heart.
On Turning Ten by Billy Collins
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.