He gets up in the middle of a netflix movie, or the middle of a visit with friends, or the middle of the morning, or whenever, and he disappears. It used to bother me. I didn’t like the sudden gone-ness and I’d go out onto the front step and call and call and then I’d send the big boys out to find him.

He’s way down the back road, Tyson would say. He’s just gone walkabout.

Walkabout. That’s what we’ve started calling these small, independent journeys taken by my now eleven-year-old son. Really, though, he’s done this his whole life.

When he was younger, he just wandered. He’d travel the yard and into the house, around the table a few times, and back out.

Whatcha doin’, I’d say.

Having a think-a-thon marathon, he’d answer.

And around and around the barn and over the fence and up and over the tree swing and back into the house and around the kitchen table, again.

I’m not sure what the think-a-thon part was about. Once in a while I’d get a glimpse by the questions he’d ask.

Who’s your favourite superhero, Mom?

Why do cute baby grasshoppers grow up to be so ugly?

Why are some people so mean? Were they always mean? Were they mean when they were babies?

Why was I born the youngest?

His journeys are longer now, but I don’t call for him anymore. I know his walkabouts are taking him away from me. I know there is more away from me in our futures. Away from home and safety and comfort.

It’s how it is meant to be.

Maybe he’s just practicing. Maybe I am, too.