I will be the first to admit that I talk a lot. A lot. Really, a lot. And I've even been guilty of over sharing, on occasion. Although, in my defense, that usually only happens with my friends. Oh, and here. But you're all my friends, right? However, I generally am able to refrain from over sharing with strangers in the grocery store, in the checkout line right behind me. I mean, there are simply some people you probably shouldn't immediately consider your bestest friend in the whole wide world; and some places where some discussions just aren't comfortable. And not just because I was busy stretching myself across the conveyor belt, placing my groceries in some semblance of order for the check out girl. (No, I don't just randomly throw my groceries up onto that belt. Yes, I arrange them somewhat. Who wants their can goods tossed in with their bread and eggs? And I keep my price matching items at the end, so that the checker has less of an opportunity to get it wrong and overcharge me. And yes, I realize my control issues are deep rooted. Wah.)
While in the checkout line at the grocery store a few days ago, the lady behind me remarked on the sheer amount of food I had in there. You must have a big family! (Okay, really? Why assume that I have a ton of kids just because I happen to have 5 boxes of cereal, 6 gallons of milk, 2 loaves of bread, 4 packages of lunch meat, and the really big box of Flavor Blasted Goldfish?) I just looked at her and said No. Teenager. Which, apparently, is a universal code for Ahh, yes. THAT would be the only acceptable reason for a butt load of food if you don't have eight kids! I also mentioned that he's on the football team, to which I got a commiserating smile in return.
She then went on to tell me all about how her step-son, when he was still in high school, had been in all sorts of trouble with the law. To the tune of $20,000 in legal expenses. And that was just THEIR share. She had no idea what this boy's mother had kicked in to help pay for his legal education. She told me about his history of robbery and car theft. About his drug use. About his no-good friends who dragged him down into it. About how frustrated and saddened she was that this boy was such a dedicated follower, and had no leadership abilities. She was just thankful that he had found himself a nice girlfriend, now, so he could follow her and not these friends.
That was a lot of information to give me, a total stranger, about her life. Her son's life. And after I sympathized with her, and remarked how blessed I was with my teenager, I finished up at the store and went home. Where I kept thinking back to this conversation. While this certainly wasn't the first time I've been smacked with this realization, I once again took a minute to reflect on how fortunate I am to have the teenager I have. He's active in school activities, he studies hard, he's polite and respectful to his elders and to anyone of the female gender, and he's still affectionate to his mother.
That night, I told him so. He came out to sit by me on the sofa, and I put my arm around him and rested my head on his shoulder. (Side note: it's kinda bittersweet that my baby is big enough now that I'm the one putting MY head on HIS shoulder, rather than the other way around) I looked up at him, kissed his cheek, and said I'm proud of you.
For what, Mom?
Just for being you, I said. You're a good kid and a hard worker, and that's something to be proud of.
He paused for a moment, shrugged his shoulders and replied Well, it's your fault. You're raising me.
You know what? If I have to be blamed for something, I think I'm okay with being blamed for sending a pretty decent young man out into the world.