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Archive for the ‘Teenagers’ Category

October 2, 1995 wBaby Jay with Bubble Bloweras a very different day than October 2, 2013 is.  At the beginning of the day, I didn’t know your name, I didn’t even know if you were a boy or a girl.  I was anxious, and scared, and excited to see the child who had been nestled close to my heart for the past nine months.  Of course you made your entrance in your own way, Despite weeks of trying to get you into the “proper” position, you preferred to approach the world standing up, not laying down.  And so you greeted the world face forward, head held high, and ready to take on the world.  It should have given me a clue to the man you are becoming.

This morning, instead of simply opening your bedroom door and telling you it was time to get up, I stood next to the bed for a few minutes and just watched you, as I used to do when you were first born.  Now,  as I did then, I marvel that I had any part in creating you.  I would gently twist a light brown curl around my finger, stare at the long lashes nestled against plump cheeks, I would smooth the blanket out over tiny legs.  You somehow always seemed to wrap them around you, and I was afraid you couldn’t move (you still do that).  I would wonder what would be in store for you in this life, what things would you like, would you like to read or would you hate books?  Would you be outgoing or shy?  Would you be a writer, an artist, a construction worker, a businessman, a truck driver, an actor, a lawyer?  I didn’t really care, my wish for my boys has always been that they are happy at what ever work they choose.  But I did wonder.

Unlike those mornings 18 years ago, I know a great deal more about you now.  As i watched you this morning, I didn’t see chubby cheeks and plump arms.  I saw a face that is thinner, with more chiseled features.  You are no longer my cuddly little boy.  You are long, lean and muscled.  You haven’t even reached your full growth yet, but you are more than half a foot taller than I am.  You still have brown hair, slightly darker, slightly less curly.  Your lashes are still impossibly long and brush your cheeks when you sleep.  Just as your face has become more chiseled, so has your personality.  You are smart, smarter than almost everyone you know.  You love books, and science.  You are competitive, but more with yourself than with others.  You always want to do better.  You are funny, in a dry way.  You have a caring heart, and don’t tolerate injustice.  You love to debate.  You are athletic.  You are a better fencer than you think you are.  You can be stubborn, and inflexible at times.  You are messy.  You enjoy reading classics from Shakespeare, philosophers such as Nietzsche, Plato and Dante.  You like stories about knights and dragons, hobbits and magicians.  You are as good in English as you are in Science.  You don’t care for Dickens.  You are not afraid to take on a challenge, you face the world head on, face forward, feet on the ground.

As when you were a baby, today I still want to protect you from all that could harm you.  My heart wants to swaddle you back up in your favorite blankie, make everything soft and easy for you.  But my head says that you need to face challenges, go through heartache, strive and push so that you become the best man you can be.   My soul sees so much in you today that tells me how absolutely awesome you will be as a man.

On your 18th birthday, I have a wish for you.  It is not a wish for just health, wealth and happiness.  It is a wish that you have a life in which you give yourself permission to try, and permission to fail.  That you give yourself the gift of patience.  That you continue to value knowledge for knowledge’s sake.  That you dream big.  And most of all my wish for you today is the same as it was 18 years ago.  That you are a kind, caring man who makes good decisions.  For if you are that, you will have a life that is well lived.  Continue to face the world as you did on the day you were born – head up, face forward and your feet on the ground.

All my love –  MomAviary Photo_130196235117704375

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I’m spending a lot of time lately driving through the countryside on small country roads.  It is both restful, and stressful.  How can it be both?  I’m teaching my 17-year-old to drive.  In Indiana teenagers can now have to wait until they are 16 1/2 before they can get their license.  My son has waited until he is 17 and 3/4,  he will be 3 months shy of his 18th birthday before he completes the required 40 hours of driving and take his test, a fact that is hard for me to understand.  I wanted my license the day I turned 16, I couldn’t wait for the independence that piece of paper represented. I started driving in the corn fields that surrounded our house well before I turned 15 and took drivers ed.  The freedom to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, providing of course that I could use the car.  It was a symbol of growing up and I wanted desperately to be grown up.  My oldest son also wanted, and got, his license as soon as he turned 16.  Although I actually needed him to have his license at that point, living in the mountains of Colorado, in light of everything he managed to do that he wasn’t supposed to, there were many days when I wished I hadn’t let him get his license.  Yes, hindsight is twenty – twenty.

The current 17-year-old has been in absolutely no hurry to achieve that state of independence.  I have been the one that has pushed him to learn to drive.  I had to threaten to ground him to get him to study for the written exam necessary to get his learner’s permit.  I set a deadline by when he had to have taken it.  That was a year ago.  And he really hasn’t cared much about getting behind the wheel to practice actually driving.  Until recently.  I’m not sure what actually jump started him.  Maybe it was the fact that his girlfriend has now been driving for 4 months.  Maybe he wants to find a way to have some privacy with said girlfriend. (Hmm…maybe he shouldn’t get his license?)  Or maybe it was just a turn on the chronological wheel.  Whatever the reason, I am now spending time as a passenger traveling the byways of Indiana.  We haven’t made it to the highways yet.

For the most part, he is doing well.  Everyday he gains confidence in his driving skills, and my knuckles become a little less white (there are some indentations in the passenger side armrest, I’m sure they will go away in time).  For the most part I’ve stopped pushing my foot down as if I’m stamping on the brakes.  I’ve learned to communicate more clearly EXACTLY what action he needs to take RIGHT NOW.  And I’m actually starting to look around at the country we are driving through.

I love watching the rolling fields, green with spring planted corn.  We’ve had enough rain this year that it looks like it will be “knee-high by the 4th of July”.  Stands of trees, tall and strong against the summer sun, dot the landscape, usually surrounding  a farm homestead.  Sometimes the houses are compact and neat, white sided, fronted with neatly planted flower beds a riot in color.  Sometimes they are huge old Victorians, faded paint shadowed by ancient oaks.  Crumbling stone and concrete silos stand next to towering blue Harvestors.  Occasionally we come upon a stately old brick, with ivy climbing all the way to the top stories.  What stories each of these must hold.  How many generations were born, how many fought the earth, the wind, the rain and the sun to rest a living out of the ground, to keep this land as theirs?  How many did the earth, the wind, the rain and the sun claim as payment?   How many gave in, sold out, and moved to the city or sought greener pastures further west?  Who built that stone silo that now slowly crumbles back into the ground?  If we stopped, would the farmer driving a tractor through his field tell us the stories of his land?

We don’t stop, of course.  We have a mission to complete.  15 more hours behind the wheel before he can take his test.  15 more hours behind the wheel before he reaches another stage in his independence.  15 more hours behind the wheel while I watch the Indiana countryside roll by, and decide whether I am happy, or sad,  that he finally wants his independence.

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