The days are sometimes paper thin, easily torn by shifting moods and impatience.
Today was such a day.
Miguel wanted to do something and we told him that he couldn't and, after his incessant questioning, we refused to discuss it further. He went to his room angry. We were frustrated and let him go without another word.
Later, I went into his room to tuck him in and he was lying in bed looking at the ceiling. I sat on his bed and put my hand on his leg but said nothing. After a few moments, he sat up and spoke.
"I will always question authority. I will fight authority until I die. I see at as chains that hold me back from endless possibility."
He was calm and earnest in his attempt to make me understand.
And I do understand. After all, I have watched him from the moment he took his first breath. I have born witness to his persistence and fearlessness again and again.
I nodded as he spoke. I told him that we don't want to control him, that we set limits to help him learn to set his own, that we are imperfect people with his best interests at heart.
He took a breath as his eyes met mine. He stretched his palm out into the space between us and then curved his hand as if he were holding a ball.
"It's like this. If you hold a bubble too tight, it will pop. If you loosen your grasp, the bubble stays whole. And sometimes, if you let it go completely, it will hover right in front of you without you having to hold it at all. Sometimes, if you let go, you may be surprised that good things happen."
I sat there in awe as he explained the essential struggle of our relationship. We want to hold on but we have to let go. We have to let our children take risks and make their own mistakes. As tears rolled down my face, I swallowed hard and told him that bubbles are fragile, that sometimes we simply want to protect them.
He reached out and put his hand on my leg and said, "If you stay close, you can take the bubble in your hand and hold it when you need to."
I pulled him into a hug and held him tight. I'm not ready to let go.