After he and I have fought about something or other (loudly shooting verbal harpoons across the room with piercing effect: a fast, ferocious fit of fury), Charlie stops, takes a breath and says in an even and hushed tone, “We use up a lot of energy on each other, don’t we, Mom?!”

(That stops me. I inhale sharply, catch my breath at the top and release it slowly in an extended hiss of surrender. YOU melt me, son. Time and again, you melt me.)

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