Eugene will be 12 in ten days. There is sulphur soap beside the sink and deodorant in his sock drawer. There are new rules. I mustn't ask him about his feelings in front of his friends. He never wants my help, and if he does, he'll ask (he doesn't). When he isn't smiling it's because he's being cool not unhappy, and what he needs most is my respect.
And my hugs, of course. And my cooking. Always my cooking. A mother never loses that inroad with her sons.
The best advice I've gotten? Resist the urge to pull him up by the roots to check on how he's doing under the soil. Let him grow. Tend. Wait.
But let him grow.