Rain washes away more than heat

The invitation came unexpectedly, hanging in the humid air for a moment.

"Mom, come stand with me on the porch to watch the rain."

It was midnight in late July.

The skies had threatened rain most of the evening. And perhaps that expectation of relief from unrelenting heat compelled my son and me not to surrender to sleep just yet.

So I stood on the porch that night and marveled not at the cool mist caressing our faces, but at my son, who stood a good four inches taller than I.

The rain was washing the angst from his face, that adolescent anxiousness to grow up and declare one's independence. My son, like most teens, chooses to test that independence in a number of ways. He can be oh-so-polite. But sometimes he is rude. He can sparkle with boundless joy - or be irritatingly silent. He is clever and witty. But sometimes doesn't choose his words wisely.

Adolescence, in some ways, is a magnificent journey, much like a butterfly wriggling to be free of its chrysalis. Adolescence may look like the ugly wrapping, but that cocoon has a protective purpose. And patient watching results in an incredibly beautiful and colorful creature.

On that rainy night, I clearly saw the cocoon stripped away from my son. At that moment he was content just to be - to be with me, to relish the rain.

This summer storm was a cleansing rain in many ways. For weeks the oppressive heat had tightly gripped my son and me, making us edgy, less accommodating of each other. I blamed the mood on adolescence, until we stood together that night watching raindrops splatter the porch. It was, simply, the gripping heat that prompted the walking-on-eggshells atmosphere.

Live for this moment, I reminded myself. Opportunities such as this are rare once a child turns that corner and starts racing toward adulthood.

His need for independence soon will pull him from this porch, from his home. I'd like to think that someday he, too, will stand in the rain somewhere, remembering the power of these simple but endearing words: "Come stand with me on the porch to watch the rain."

At any age, it's an irresistible invitation.

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