Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No Practice Rounds or Do-Overs

I have decided that "They", the elusive all-knowing "They", don't know diddly.  Because if They did, I'd be better at this parenting gig.

I had another post in mind for tonight, and it's one that's still needing to be written. But a conversation I had with my teenager this evening changed my plans. Conversation? Who am I kidding? I suppose if you can consider it a conversation where I'm sitting there doing all the talking and he's sitting there doing all of the eye rolling and puffing up with righteous indignation, then we were having a conversation. Sure. Let's roll with that one.

But somewhere between Do you really think you're the only teenager in history to go through this? and the tear that he couldn't quite stop from rolling down his cheek, I stopped "conversing" with him. And started just talking to him. 

We were discussing Jock and Mouse; more specifically, the non-relationship he has going with her right now. Make no mistake, I think Mouse is a sweet girl. BUT... she is still a 16 year old girl. With all the accompanying drama being a 16 year old girl entails. And quite frequently, that drama tangles up with Jock's little world in a way that just.... well, just bites. Somewhere in the conversation Jock and I were having, his ear-to-brain converter stopped working. What I was saying was not what he was hearing.

At 16, you expect your parents to have all the answers. One of those answers you expect your parents to have is the correct way to talk to you about teenage drama and heartbreak. So it kinda sucks great big rotten eggs when reality smacks you in the face and shows you that your parents? Well, they're pretty clueless. But unless you're told, you don't really understand why. After all, they were teenagers once. At least, they keep telling you they were. So what the heck, mom and dad?

And that tear that managed to escape? Broke my heart.

So I stopped in mid conversation. Asked him, for what felt like the 6,375,894,234,004 time, to look at me. And quite calmly asked him a question.

Do you have any older brothers or sisters?

He looked at me like I'd finally lost my grip on that last marble in my head when he reminded me that No, I'm the oldest. 

Know what that means? It means we've never done this before. We have never been through this .... thing.... from this perspective. Ever. We lived it, but we've never parented through it. Cut us some slack, dude. We have no clue how to say the right thing, or do the right thing. We're wingin' it. And so we're gonna screw it up. Probably a lot more often than we'll ever realize. But here's the thing. We WANT to get it right. We WANT to be able to talk to you about it. We WANT you to be able to talk to us about it. Work with me. Don't just blow me off because I've said something that either totally irritates you, or hurts you. God knows I never want to hurt you with something I say. Everything I do with you, everything I say to you, is a first. I've never practiced, I've never read a manual, I've never had a chance to do it wrong on someone else so I could get it right with you. Neither one of us has been down this path before, so lets work together to get through it, okay?

I adore my son. And so I told him so. I am beyond proud of him, for being the kind of young man who actually sees people for who they are and not the front they present to everyone. And so I told him that, too. He loves generously and unconditionally, and that makes me proud. He cares less about what other people think of him, and more about the kind of friend he can be to other people; and that makes me proud. This ability to look beyond the facade and into the heart of someone is what makes him a good friend to guys and girls alike; and what makes him awesome boyfriend material. Even if no one consciously realizes that but his mother.

In all professional sports, professional speeches, musical concerts.... any arena where your performance could hurt, offend or damage someone get time to practice and warm up. You get the opportunity to practice, practice, practice in the days, weeks and months leading up to the performance of your lifetime. And you still worry you won't get it right.

The real wonder is that we don't mess more things up, I suppose.


Adrian said...

Practice makes man perfect and sincere to his commitment

Karen said...

You are amazing. I keep looking to you for parenting advice because you never fail to disappoint.

Linda in New Mexico said...

Your sons are truly blessed to have a Mom who "sees" the whole picture and "serves up a big ole helping of real" to them so that they can be successful. Good for you and your kids.