My first indication that my youngest son had awakened this morning was feeling his strong young arms around my shoulders as I sat at this keyboard. He has always been affectionate, even before he could stand on his own.
The years have sped by, and he does much more than stand on his own. I am keenly aware that this year, at age 13 and a half, he will be deciding (even if subconsciously) what kind of person he actually will be. Will the many prayers and moments of teaching (as well as the teachable moments I didn't take advantage of) be evident?
But sons and daughters aren't like recipes that pop out of the oven as successes or failures. There are many indications and opportunities for course correction along the journey, if only we pay attention.
What I've noticed, though, is that this parenting enterprise is a collaborative effort: God is always there with His comprehensive love and wisdom; John is there, transforming before my eyes; the third component? That would be me, the very imperfect mom who tries to show up but doesn't always make it. Sometimes I am AWOL; or too tired, too discouraged, or simply not paying attention.
This morning's interchange was a little too obvious to miss, though:
Miss Cee: Mom! Johnny thinks he can go to Eli's house to play just because I'm going there, but I asked you and HE didn't!!!
John: [overheard, sotto voce] *If you can go, so can I!*
But, no, he can't. How quickly he has forgotten the instruction--repeated less than 24 hours ago--that permission must first be asked for and granted. Well, that's OK for little sisters but, hey, he's Officially A Teenager.
But, not quite independent, and clearly still under authority, as is demonstrated by the fact that he is not yet fully independent. Time for Mom to suit up and boldly stride into the fray.
I am met by cold eyes and a jutting, still-beardless chin. Must I really devote ten minutes and more emotional energy to report for duty again? But the truths I'm about to remind John of apply to me as well: we are all under authority; we don't own our own lives; God created us, and our lives are His if we call ourselves His children, and--make no mistake, my son--you also will stand before Him and give account of yourself.
But, right now, submitting to God still involves submitting to your parents. Not cool, just true.
So we talk about privileges and freedoms, choices and character. Do you understand what I'm telling you? Tell me what you understand. At this juncture, as so many times before, I look at his face and try to read his attitude. I remind him the choice is his: finish his chores or sit on his bed for an hour.
Minutes later, I hear the rhythmic hum of the vacuum in his room. Then, I hear the front door open and slam shut. Wait a minute--
But I look out the window and see him, unbidden, take out a bag for recycling pick up. He walks slowly back in the door. Our eyes meet, and I tell him he is free to go to Eli's house now.
I haven't seen him run this fast--in flip flops yet!-- in a while.