Parenting Reflections

Teen Spirit

Age Thirteen.

My parents (and I) will be the first to tell you that I have made mistakes and bad choices in my life (sorry, mom!).  How I avoided life-altering consequences I will never know.  Therefore, I am somewhat sympathetic to the bad decisions of others.  *Somewhat*

Today, I voraciously defended Big Brother’s honor on the phone with THE MIDDLE SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVE who demanded I “have a conversation with my son regarding the importance of telling the truth to every adult at all times” and emphasized the “serious problem” evidenced by Big Brother’s behaviour  (in the grand scheme of things, it was really atypical chest pain and not an ST-elevation myocardial infarction – bad decision, yes, major problem no).

However, I did have THE CONVERSATION with Big Brother when I came home unexpectedly early this afternoon.  After I caught him red-handed playing video games (btw he’s currently grounded from said video games because of some other teenage infraction related to cell phone minutes).  It’s no surprise how that conversation went.

After we got home from a movie at the cheap theatre with the girls, I asked Big Brother if he had been on THE INTERNET when he was supposed to be typing up his homework.  “Oh yeah, by accident the internet opened up”.  I clicked on the History button and noted “Search for Emenim Play List” among other links in the history.  Quite an accident.  Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I asked him if he had noted the sudden onset of seizure during my absence.  He assured me that he had not.

This behaviour evoked THE STORY. 

Three weeks prior to high school graduation, I was at a party.  There was beer +/-.  Several (10) kids were jumping off the roof into the pool.  I did not.  In fact, I left rather early (I have no idea why).  I later heard that one of the kids jumped off and didn’t come up from the bottom of the pool.  He almost drowned before everyone else realized he wasn’t kidding.  The ensuing quadraplegia from a C2 fracture destroyed hopes for fulfilling a full ride football scholarship to an NCAA Division I university.

I think Big Brother may have begun to understand my point (the unabashed tears streaming down my face probably didn’t hurt).  We all have these stories, the “should’ve/could’ve been me” stories that hopefully make us better humans.   I was trying to impress upon him that it’s not about playing video games when he’s not supposed to (or lying to the Middle School Ogre).  It’s about being prepared to make THE RIGHT DECISION more often than not.  Because every bad decision is a life-altering risk – impossible to imagine at age 13. 

Parenting never gets easier – the physical strain of mothering a newborn easily transitions to the emotional exhaustion of toddlerhood fades into the panic-striken stalking of adolescence.  And here I am in my mid-30’s and still calling mom every day.  I hope she worries a little less about me, but I’m sure there’s still a level of anxiety that I cannot appreciate (my granddaughter’s temp is 105 and she’s not in the emergency room?!?). 

This is for keeps, folks.  No give backs.  I still love every minute.