Posted in Family, Writing

Who’s that MAN?

[This post will probably provoke a protest of “Mo-o-om!” from its subject… (Have you noticed how a teenager can turn “Mom” into a three-syllable word?) But the fearless family-chronicler forges forward nonetheless. ;) Love you, Son!]

I had a weird moment just a while back, one that other moms-of-sons might recognize… I had taken a few moments to run (OK, drive) the few blocks home from our restaurant in the middle of a Saturday, leaving “the men in my life” (husband Keoni and 18-year-old son Kapena) behind me at the business. Knowing the menfolk were elsewhere, imagine my shock when I opened the front door and heard the sounds, from my 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom, of her voice in conversation with that of a man! I went busting through her bedroom door in a state of alarm, only to find…

Christian & Elena Grace
Christian & Elena Grace… It was HIS voice in her room!

…my daughter and my son chatting together. Oh. Stand down, Mama Bear.

I had noticed, since his thirteenth birthday, that Christian’s voice had begun jumping around from one register to another. But it wasn’t until that Saturday, being startled by an “unfamiliar” adult-male-voice, that I fully realized that this IS my son’s voice now.

At my birthday party a week ago he presented me with a fire-opal ring of two sea turtles—a reference to his first nick-name of “Turtle”—and I found myself lifting onto my toes to kiss his cheek in thanks. It’s been a almost a year already that his arms have been on top when he hugs me, and mine around his chest instead of draped over his shoulders.

with kids at our restaurant counter... Notice the relative heights!
with kids at our restaurant counter… Notice the relative heights!

And there seem to be other changes in the wind. He has insisted for years that he’ll “never” be bothered with girls, girlfriends, or marriage—and I haven’t contradicted him. (Sure, I’ve thought he might change his mind, but who am I to insist that he will? Besides, I’m happy to be The Woman in his life for however long that lasts…) These days, though, there’s a girl surfacing in our conversations. He says she has “friend-zoned” him, but in any case they have lots in common to converse about, and he has been following her fiction-writing on Wattpad.

She may (or may not) have something to do with the fact that he has just launched the first chapter of his own first novel on Wattpad. To put this event in context (because in my mind it comes with several exclamation points!), Christian has hated writing since he first picked up a pencil. He was reading “chapter books” by his third birthday and spoke already like a miniature professor, but when it came to writing, his own perfectionism made it a chore. Even as a Little Guy, each word had to be spelled correctly, each letter had to be formed precisely—and his own demands on himself turned writing into a hassle he hated.

Christian's budding pirate novel, "The Red Dawn"
Christian’s budding pirate novel, “The Red Dawn”

Despite his voracious reading, his tremendous vocabulary, and the treasure-house that is his imagination, he has hated every English class because of the demand for writing. So I’m thrilled at the chance to see what comes of this delightful and unexpected story-beginning.

One of the joys of parenting is watching our kids grow and change and become their own people… That’s true at every age; it’s just maybe accelerated during the teen years. It’s why I’m glad Christian talks to me. It’s why I’m glad he likes to share whatever he’s most recently discovered, whether it be a song or a show on Netflix or a book or an iPad app or a game. (Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have looked twice at a game of driving and shooting tanks… But I got a kick out of letting him show me how to navigate, and letting him laugh at my inept attempts when we played together on an interactive online team.) It’s why I’m glad he has started working with us at the restaurant, where we have stretches of down-time together and he fills them by telling me stuff.

our man at the register
our man at the register

It’s a pleasure, too, to watch this self-possessed young man (transformed from the kid of a year ago who described himself as “not liking to talk to strangers”) interacting easily with customers at our cash register. Our guests enjoy his humor and his manners, and I enjoy observing the “performance” of Christian’s newly cultivated social skills.

I suppose you could say that my favorite “show” is the ever-evolving people-scapes that are my children… And just like a fan of a pop-star, I’m gratified by any sort of glimpse into their personalities and their private lives.

and now… a writer!

I think that’s what most intrigues me about Christian’s nascent story: not just what plot or characters he might imagine, but also the emergence of his writing voice.  It’s a whole new aspect of him.

But then, I was just as fascinated by what he chose to write about himself in the “biography” section on Wattpad. Even where the content wasn’t “news” to me, it’s another thing to see his self-image crystallized in his own words. Take this gem, for example: “I’m partially tone-deaf, meaning that while some people can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I can’t carry the bucket. I do play the cello though, and I am very good at recognizing an artist from their music.” I also found myself grinning at the last three statements with which he wrapped up his bio:

  • My life dream is to buy a sailboat and sail off into the sunset.
  • I work as a cashier and waiter at my mom’s restaurant, Kana Girl’s Hawaiian BBQ.
  • I want to become a Dive Master so that I can lead dive tours around Hawaii, where my mom and stepdad plan to move after I graduate from high school.
yesterday in a carseat, tomorrow with a driver's permit!
yesterday in a carseat, tomorrow with a driver’s permit!

Every parent I know talks at some point about how fast time flies by. (Well, not every minute of it… A night awake with a vomiting toddler lasts at least as long as most weeks… But mostly.) It’s almost cliché even to make the observation—but then, I guess clichés are generally derived from Truths. So here I am thinking that “just yesterday” this kiddo was in a carseat, and now he’s counting the (very few) months till he can get his driving permit. All the more reason for this Mommy not to miss any episodes of “the Christian show” while it’s still airing on our home station!



I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

19 thoughts on “Who’s that MAN?

  1. Yes, Christian is at the threshold of manhood, and you’ll soon be relegated to a support position. Understand, though, that – as frustrating and tense as things may get between you – he’ll be the one man in your life who will always love you.


    1. You’d think that these mom-moments wouldn’t come as such a surprise to me, having been through the “teen journey” once already with the 18-year-old son who just left home… But each son is his own journey! ;)


  2. Wow, you’ve summed up so neatly here what’s going through my head day after day after day.
    Only last week Sprog2 told me I was ‘being too loud’ while Sprog1 insisted he wanted ‘to walk to the shops.’ These little men are 2 and a half years old, by the way.

    I have very clear memories of holding them in one hand, cuddled against my chest while they search for a boob and now I’m about to send them off for their first half day of pre-school.

    I spent all night worrying about it actually.

    Reading this has helped remind me that all mothers go through this and while it’s agonising (I never realised how much!) it’s just part of what we sign up for when we become ‘mum.’

    Thanks Kana.
    PS – I remain thrilled that you’re blogging again! x


    1. For what it’s worth… I honestly think it’s more wrenching to send kids to school for the first time than it is to see them leave home altogether. Yesterday Kapena flew across the country to start Army Basic Training—and as emotional as I am about that, it’s still not even close to how I felt about the first day of Kindergarten! Before my kids started school, I was with them 24/7, and their whole experience of the world was filtered THROUGH ME. That was a tougher change (for this Mum, anyway) than Kapena leaving home, probably because the last few years had been a transition-time where he handled more & more of his own responsibilities, relying less and less on US as he became his own man… Of course, each of the kids swam into school like happy little fish, and never looked back—but I’m right there with you: there’s no denying it’s difficult for MOM. :)


      1. Never thought about it that way, but you’re right. I imagine that as they grow, it will be easier (ish) as it’s gradual. This… even though I knew it was coming (and I begged for it) was a slap with a wet sponge.

        They didn’t even notice me leave or ask for me while I was gone. Nor did they want to go when I came back for them.

        Guess I should just take comfort in the fact that they’re comfortable in ‘the big world.’ I’d feel loads worse if they were pining for me (though just a little pleased at being needed – I ain’t shy of admitting that).


        1. Don’t worry, Mum—our boys will always need us, even when they’re contentedly navigating the world. ;) Christian regularly grabs me in a bear-hug, and often doesn’t let go for three or four full minutes (sometimes even at the restaurant where—gasp!—people can SEE him hugging his mother). Those are easily my favorite minutes of any given day. :)


    1. You and me both, regarding differences! It’s funny how I can see these kiddos every day and STILL be surprised or taken aback by the changes! :)


  3. You fell off my Reader’s radar, so when I saw you’d visited my site, I ran over to see if you were back. Yaay! It will take me a while to catch up, but I’m sooooo glad you’re back, Kana. Can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to.


    1. That’s what I get for dropping off the map for so long! ;) I’m SO enjoying reconnecting with old friends in the “blogosphere”—I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it. (But talk about a lot of catching-up to do!) :)


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