We’ve been through the sleepless nights when they were newborns. On several occasions throughout my children’s lives, I remember silently repeating, “If we can just get through fill in the blank – fourth-grade math, tooth fairy forgetting, seventh-grade math, sports tryouts, parent-teacher conferences, ages 14-16, driving, ACTs, 10th-grade math, this whole raising children thing will get easier.
Inevitably, we get through one growing pain and another bigger growing pain would emerge that would force me on my knees bargaining with God.
“I’ll do fourth-grade math every day for the rest of my life if You can just let us skip this ‘I’m going to drive my parents insane’ phase. I’ll even take back the ‘up-all-night newborn phase’ because staying up all night with a newborn is a cake walk compared to ‘staying up all night worried about a boy who has decided on a career that may or may not mean he could be living at home forever.’”
Our oldest is getting ready to start his second year in college. I would never in 1 million years say it’s so easy now. But, it is different. I hesitate to say, “we’re friends” for fear that I’ll be hit with a citation from the parent police that reads, “You’re not his friend. You will never be his friend. Kids are ungrateful little twits. You will never get respect if they like you, you pansy. Pay $50 and get out of my face.”
Part of that is true and will always be true. He will always have his twit moments. But he’s 19 now. It’s the last year of his teens. And since he’s been home for the summer, there’s been a noticeable shift. He’s growing up. He’s got well-informed opinions – even if some of those opinions don’t always align with his mama’s. For the most part, he’s making good choices. He even cleaned his bedroom a few times without being asked.
In just less than a week, we will help him move into his dorm. I’ll have the pleasure of making sure his bed is properly made, his toiletries are organized and his desk is stocked with plenty of pencils, a calendar and printer ink refills. The reason this is a pleasure for me is this will be the last time his bed will be made until next year at the same time. This will also be the last time his shower and sink won’t look like a science experiment gone wrong. He’ll do his best with the jumbo container of Clorox wipes I shoved under the sink, but we both know that will happen twice, at best.
I’ve decided not to ask him if his sheets have been washed or if his bathroom is clean when he comes home for a visit. It doesn’t bother him. How it doesn’t bother him is beyond me.
Our youngest started high school this year, and thanks to his big brother, we kind of know what to expect. He paved the way. He gave me my reference point for dealing with teenage boy issues of which there aren’t many. But man, the ones they have can be doozies.
Comments? Email Becky Andrews at [email protected] Andrews and Angel Kane are the brains behind Telling Tales, a weekly column in The Democrat.