Hi, Tim! Welcome back home. How was your first day of high school? Do you like it there? Don’t bother answering—those were just rhetorical questions to break the ice. You see, your mother and I have been putting off a very important chat for quite a while. We’ve given this serious thought, and ultimately decided that we’d all be much happier if we just became your friends.
Tim, you’ve changed over the years. Being right smack dab in the middle of puberty, you’ve probably noticed that too, but we mean more in terms of how you interact with us. You just aren’t the person we knew five years ago, when you were a fun kid we genuinely enjoyed being with.
We’ve noticed that you’ve gradually lost interest in the things we used to do together. Remember all the times we played softball in the backyard? Or when we awkwardly followed behind you when you went trick-or-treating? Those were great times! Every day was a brand-new exploration of our loving commitment to each other.
But now you never seem to have any time for us. We barely say hello to each other before you go to school, and you’re always out late at night without telling us where you are. Sometimes it feels like you’re outright avoiding us. What happened? Did things get too boring for you? You could have said something. We could have talked about it. What about us and what we want? What about our needs, Tim?
We wouldn’t be honest with you if we didn’t admit that we’ve been parenting other children. Just yesterday, when we were walking Rufus in the park, a boy who was about the age you were when things were better asked us if we wanted some lemonade.
In a moment of weakness, we both said yes. One thing led to another, and pretty soon we were playing Frisbee with him all afternoon. I know that sounds absolutely terrible, and you have every right to feel deeply betrayed. But we just enjoyed it so much! His name is Sam, he’s in Little League, and we feel like completely different parents when we’re around him.
One thing we want to be clear about, though, is that this isn’t about you. This is about your mother and me and what we need to make us feel whole again. We won’t get jealous or offended if you stay with other parents. It’s a big world out there! We’re sure there are plenty of moms and dads somewhere who would be perfect for you.
We’ll be out of your way soon. If you want any of the things you gave us for our birthdays or Christmas over the years, just let us know. Also, we know we said that Rufus was your dog, but we paid for him, so he really should stay with us. I’m sure we can set up some kind of visitation schedule that’s fair for everybody, most importantly Rufus. And you can always call us if you want. Just because we won’t be living together anymore doesn’t mean that we can’t be on speaking terms!
Tim, you don’t have to cry. We realize this is hard, so you have all our support. Please don’t ever think this is about us not loving you, because we still do very much. Just not as our son.
Hold on, Sam’s calling us. Sam? Yes, we just told him. He knows.
Illustration by Andrew Lakata