though a mother never really knows with a 14 year old son, things do seem to be going well in this new educational season. i don’t get a lot of details or elaborate stories from his day, but, for the most part, it appears as if he is off to a good start. considering his academic career thus far was spent at a small, christian school where everyone knew his name—and, more importantly, his mother’s name—this big, public school experience could have proved a little dicey. but he seems to be doing well. and, like i said, i’m proud of how he’s handling it. so far.
“so far.” as a parent, i’ve learned to use that phrase regularly. i’ve learned that things can change in a heartbeat or a test grade or a lunchroom incident or a poor choice: fine today, not so fine tomorrow. that’s life. that’s certainly high school. and because connor is our 4th child to enter it, i am careful with my words and my phraseology. i am careful with what i declare definitively. you won’t ever hear “my child would never …” come out of this mama’s mouth. she knows to never say never. things can change. things do change. let’s be honest, things will change.
in all these years of raising (i.e., managing) high schoolers, i have also learned to ask a lot of questions. i’m sure i often teeter on (okay, more like, trounce upon) the line of annoying. no doubt, i can pester and poke around and press them sometimes a little more (waaay more) than they’d prefer. but, it doesn’t matter. i tell them, “it’s my job and i want to know." i really do. and so i ask:
how was your day, honey?
anything interesting happen today, honey?
was that test easy or hard, honey?
who did you sit with at lunch, honey?
what did you talk about in English class, honey?
do you have any homework tonight, honey?
you know the usual mom stuff. i ask. i will always ask. sometimes he mumbles one word answers while standing in the pantry scouring the shelves for items to include in his after school snack---er ... um ... feast. (i’ve also learned that there is nothing quite like the hunger of a boy after a day of high school). but sometimes, he’ll lean across the counter and carefully offer up a few more verbal crumbs. he’ll pause in between shoveling mouthfuls of cookies or chips or cheese and he will come close to making eye contact and, even, on occasion, use adjectives and (mostly) full sentences. sometimes.
regardless of what i get, i continue to ask.
in these past couple of months there’s been a new phrase connor has used with me and all my questions. if you've ever had a 9th grade boy living under your roof, maybe you’ve heard it too. this fall, more times than i can count, when i've started down the well-worn path of mom-interrogation, connor's reply has been, “mom, i’ve got this.”
"mom, i've got this."
those four words. over and over again. he says this to me often. and, let’s face it parents, we all know the phrase is both beautiful and terrible all at once. beautiful, because i am watching my boy take on so many new things and (so far) he is doing a great job and growing into such a great young man … and that’s lovely and it’s certainly what i want and wish for. but terrible too. you know what i mean? he’s growing up and he doesn’t need a whole lot from this woman who corners him in the kitchen and peppers him with slightly annoying queries every day after school. i don’t pack his lunch or make his snack or help him with his homework or organize his social life anymore and it seems every week he does more on his own. i’ve even—big gasp—watched him throw his clothes in the washing machine and turn it on! and, whereas that is good and necessary and a big part of parenting, it's also a little bit sad for us mamas who like to be needed. i mean i'm never going to grow weepy about my kid doing his own laundry or making his own lunch, but there is a tiny flutter in this woman's heart when she really stops and thinks about how far she's traveled with her children---from utterly dependent on us for every single need to the attitude of, "mom, i've got this."
nowhere was this phrased more used than last month when he was making plans for the school homecoming dance. though it might surprise you a little, i had a few questions about that as well:
when are you going to ask her, honey?
how are you going to ask her, honey?
who is in your group, honey?
do you need reservations, honey?
did you buy the tickets, honey?
what do you want to wear, honey?
what kind of corsage should we order, honey?
what time are pictures, honey?
you can imagine.
and that’s just a sampling, trust me, i had a lot more swirling around inside of me.
and connor’s answer? yep, you've guessed it ... “mom, i’ve got this.”
and he did.
he asked the girl. he organized the group. he made the dinner reservation. he figured out the plan. he even tried to convince me that he and his friends could uber and wouldn’t be in need of parent drivers. (he tried, we drove anyway). but, he showed us how in so many ways that he really did "have this."
it was a sweet group of kids who had all known each other from grade school. and they did a great job making plans and making their first high school homecoming fun. fun, even for us parents. we had a blast taking pictures and seeing the kids together and figuring out how much we needed to interject ourselves and how much we needed to step out of the way. we had this parent group text and email going where we were trying to all get an understanding of "their plan," without stepping on their new found autonomy. trust me, it was a fine line. like i said, terrible and wonderful all at once. it wasn't just the homecoming dance, but it is an ongoing dance with parents and kids this age. and we don't always get it right. not even with our 4th borns.
because it’s not only the kids who grow in high school---it’s the parents too. we grow and we stretch ourselves in ways we didn’t know were possible. in ways we didn’t know were needed. we aren’t always quite prepared, nor do we do it all perfectly. just like them---we are figuring it out. and, just like them, whether we really do "got this," or not ... we can rest assured our heavenly father definitely does.
"and He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
~ colossians 1:17
(yes, even our high schoolers)