Sanitized Kids Make You Look Bad

So, there was this little one, the other day at the place where I was sitting, sipping my black coffee out of a real mug.

I could see that every blond hair was precisely in place, each square centimeter of his expensively styled outfit a perfect complement to his mother’s managed persona.

He carried a pristine bear and his shoes, un-scuffed, walked across the floor of the coffee shop, so very carefully.

Heel, toe.  Heel, toe.

Sitting with feet dangling off the tall chair, drinkng lukewarm cocoa out of a straw while his attentive mother dabbed at spots and smoothed wrinkles.

Perhaps they were on their way to a fab photo shoot.

My Heart in Black and White.jpgMaybe they weren’t.

I suppose, if I hadn’t seen so many costumed tiny children lately, I wouldn’t be writing this.  These thoughts never occurred to me when my spiky-haired boys were this age.

You know what was missing from his scrupulously clean face?

A smile. There were no inquisitive eyes darting around the brightly colored interior of the shop. In every other way he was normal in his mannerisms and engagement with his mom.

Yet, there he was in a conspicuous absence of sizzling, little boy energy, sitting so still.

I found it unsettling.

————————-

Read the rest at HeidiStone.Net and let me know what you think about this trend in parenting and child-rearing.

 

Advertisements

The Family End Game

The kitchen fairly sparkled.  All the miscellaneous KA-RAP shuffled, re-organized, then put into cute tins and interesting little boxes before being shelved.   You could see your reflection in the blender’s chrome sides and the little red-kettle-that-could was gleaming, finally freed from a layer of food spatter and over-spray.

EndgameMy husband, Brian, leaned up against the counter inspecting grout lines and doing what he does best, find all the things I miss.   I say this honestly and gratefully,  he is the best quality control I could ever hope for and he is faithful to encourage us to do our best.

“I hope this makes it easier for the boys to do their kitchen chores.” I said.  “The clutter I’d allowed in this space was hard for them to clean around and I know they are frustrated.”

“It might,” he said. “But how can we help them where they are struggling to develop a better work ethic, especially how it relates to them doing their chores around here?”

We threw a couple of ideas around:

1.   Let them be completely self-governed, quit preparing food for them, make them walk or find rides wherever they want to go and, basically, I quit being mom for a week. 

Pros:   Totally free week for me, lots of time to do the things I want to do, I could get lots of paying work done, write some, my laundry finally caught up, reduce the gas bill sharply, sleep in every day…

Cons:  Totally separated from the lives of my children, boring, having to take up their chores in addition to my normal work,  feelings of resentment toward the little free-loaders, disappearing food I had in mind for different meals, the pressure on our family as they adjust to their new “freedom” and the possibilities for stupidity that could impact them far longer than my little social experiment.

2.   Let them decide what a “good day’s work” looks like and have them become responsible, like a job, for their own achievements for the day. Each accomplishment has a reward value and each opportunity costs a certain, accrued amount of reward points. 

Pros: Learning the limits of working, establishing a budget based on time + work = reward,  let them know the value of being self-governing and earning privileges.

Cons:  The time it takes to assign reward values to chores, the time it takes to have them hash out the “good day’s work” parameters and the tension that builds as they do it, finding ourselves in a bigger fight as they decide that certain key elements of their education and responsibilities are negotiable.

Then, honestly, we kinda stalled out.

In our comfortable silence, the Apple TV shifted from floating pictures of tropical flowers to a static, bright blue screen while the cat played with his little toy in the front room and the dog, woefully un-snuggled, looked at us reproachfully from his perch on the couch.

“Before we decide what we want to do here, why don’t we try to reach an agreement about what, exactly, it is we are hoping to instill in our kids.” I said.  “Unless we have an endgame here, we will keep coming up with ideas, even great ones, and fail because we don’t know where we are going, y’know?”

“I know,” he sighed,  “It just seems so many of our young people live in a world where they believe their time is theirs and our time is theirs too. How do we reach them?”

I’d like to say we came to a beautiful, brilliant conclusion, I wrote a chart of ideas, the boys leapt from bed, joyously declaring their desire to deeply invest themselves in the function and maintenance of the life our family enjoys…. Yeah, I’d really like to say that.

But I can’t, we are still wrestling and praying for wisdom.

Perhaps that’s the endgame we are looking for so, someday, we can look proudly at a couple of young men who know how to wrestle and pray for wisdom.

Living With Sun Tzu

war

Who ever thought I’d look for life advice from a Chinese military general, circa 402-something B.C?   I didn’t.

In a fit of literary curiosity, I downloaded a free copy of The Art of War and began to read. I gotta tell you,  the guy was on to something.

The wisdom for leadership I found here is compelling.

I wonder what our families would look like if we lived intentionally as leaders in our homes?

“Excessive rewards are a sign of desperation.”

Ouch!!  That resonates of little ones pacified with candy/toy/tv show just to make them Stop. Asking. Already.  I’m pretty sure that little kids violate the Geneva Convention for cruel and unusual with their gift for repetitive, emotionally taxing questioning.

Somehow, holding my head and quietly saying, “Shhh… Please, just for a minute.  Shhh…”  didn’t have the desired result and I remember, all too often, handing out bribes instead to get those few, priceless moments of Shhhhh….

“Excessive punishments are a sign of exhaustion.”

After reading through the comments on a post recently, “Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time“, one of the most heart-rending themes was when so many advocated for extreme methods because “there is no other option”.  The times I remember being aware of feeling as though I have no other option than to behave badly, disrespect the human beings in my life, or resort to emotional manipulation is when I have expended all my energy and strength and, in a fit of mental/emotional/spiritual exhaustion, I cave to the temptation to indulge a burning frustration inside this flawed, human heart.

We don’t want to live in either desperation or exhaustion, do we? I don’t.

So, what do you do to keep your soul nourished, your heart content, and your leadership one which makes stronger and blesses those around you? 

Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time

I wrote recently about the Private Parent and shared a few things I do in an effort to build a solid, if somewhat hidden, foundation in the lives of my children.

A heartbreaking situation between an acquaintance and her teen son prompted those thoughts several months ago.

Intense conviction flooded my heart and mind while we shuffled awkwardly and flushed red with him as she ranted and railed in a fit of maternal frustration and helplessness.  His eyes filled with tears and his voice cracked in an attempt to maintain some kind of composure and dignity while his mother stripped him naked and flogged him with her words.

In the middle of my kitchen.

In front of our whole family.

Click on over the HeidiStone.net for the rest of the story.

Yes, Teens Have Brains! (Part 2)

I wrote before, in the first of this two part series:

This phase of tying together seemingly unrelated thoughts is, to their developing mentality, a crucial step in the developing their sense of self, individual identity, and consequentially, precedes solidifying adult personality and character.  This is a part of the process which makes possible the faith beyond “…that of a child…” which the Apostle Paul speaks of in his epistle to the Corinthians.

But what if we don’t allow this process to happen?

What if we deny them the process of learning to tear down an idea and build it up? What if we tell our children there are no puzzles to solve, only answers that we give them and then demand their obedience to ideas they have never explored?

puzzlesIn the range of people in my life, I find myself repulsed by those who refuse to question, who refuse to seek out truth, who refuse to stand on a foundation they have tested and found to be sure.

Sadly, there are those who would rather raise automatons than individuals.

A recent book dealing with the parenting and abuse discipline of children has recently come under scrutiny. It is called To Train Up A Child  and is written by a couple who, married since 1971, raised 5 children, and now, through their ministry No Greater Joy, work to instruct thousands, if not millions, of parents on the proper methodology of  breaking your child’s will and creating order from chaos in your home.

Their methods, for even teen rebellion, seems to be reduced to the following methodology:

“If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring, and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally…A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child has surrendered.” (TTUAC p.46)

Based on what we now know about the need to stretch mental muscles, to create friction within the bounds of their previously unquestioned life, the God-given drive to define themselves and find their OWN faith, how counter-intuitive do you think it is to “defeat…totally” this young person?

What kind of man or woman are can you be capable of inspiring  if your goal is to leave them defeated?

Slaves are defeated.  Inmates are defeated.  Those without hope are defeated.

What kind of world are we building?  What kind of person follows in our footsteps?

Certainly not one who can stand firmly and defend or define an individual faith without coaching.  Not a confident, independent human being capable of making his or her own decisions.

Are we at war with our children?

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood…[but] against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Frankly, I find better parenting advice in emulating Sun Tzu in his ancient text, The Art of War than I have EVER found in the Pearl’s heinous book.

“There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

 “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” 

 “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” 

 How do teens express the complexities of life with us? To us?

By confronting our comfortable norms, defying our often stagnant logic, and wrestling constantly with the ideas of society, faith, and personal belief that clash relentlessly against each other in a titanic struggle for their soul, they make us more than we were before their courageous struggle.

Instead of stifling them, I believe we MUST not only allow but ENCOURAGE the freedom to challenge our presuppositions. Who else knows us so well ALL our buttons can be pushed at once without even trying?  Who else would shake us from the self-indulgent complacency of a well-constructed world so that we too are motivated to seek deeper meaning and engage in a more clarified truth than that which we would have tiredly and willingly resigned ourselves while busy doing other things.

God certainly did not make a mistake when He designed us to ask deep questions before we solidify our beliefs.  He intentionally gave us words before He gave us the neurons to investigate.

Fellow parent, don’t be afraid of this struggle. Embrace your prickly-pear teen.  Adore their questing minds and their passionate challenges.  Love them while they cry and stumble over their words.

Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t have a good reply but have the intellectual and personal integrity to search out the answers both for yourself and for the priceless person in front of you.

They are worth it.  You are worth it.

And the ability to use the Prefrontal Cortex will return.  Promise.

Be patient.  They are the ones who get to pick your nursing home.  Won’t you be glad you taught them to think when they have that job?

Do Teenagers Still Have Brains? (PART 1)

One of the most common complaints I hear from fellow parents of teens is:

 “They don’t listen!” followed closely by, “What was she/he thinking!!!”

I hear you, folks, my friends in arms.  Have you tried charts, threats, consequences, and begged for acquiescence until, exhausted,  you withdrew to separate corners in stony silence. Have you been so exasperated you were tempted to order the discipline system advocated by that annoying advertisement where the lady asks if your child ever said “I hate you!”?

Where did your sweet, engaged boy or dancing laughing, wing-wearing, little princess go?

Sadly, we shake our heads as reticent, emotional, self-absorbed strangers, apparently eager to argue every point for the sheer pleasure of the friction and distress they cause, replace our little ones!

I sat in the big leather chair with my feet up on the armrest while we debated vigorously over which issue, violence or immorality was more ethically compromising in popular culture and the visual arts.

Throwing out statistics, observations, and a truncated understanding of human nature, he cited school shootings and the sharp uptick in graphically violent video games as the assertions of his argument. I countered with observations of how our popular culture shares a view of self-serving relationships, romance, and sexuality, all of which are advertised and marketed as “normal” to the eager and desperate masses, while these same “values” work more effectively to inhibit relational stability and emotional security.   We interrupted and talked all over each other until, finally reaching a point where we felt we had communicated well enough, both of us learned a few things.

It was exhausting.   I mean, seriously, I wanted nothing more than to lie down with a cool cloth on my temples while light music played in darkened rooms. I waxed positively Victorian.

The man-child? He was beaming.  Invigorated.

How?

First, it is necessary to attempt to understand the mind of a teenager.  We can’t simply remember the feelings of personal experience and memory we must seek to understand the perspective of those thoughts.

As a parent with a child in this state of mental, emotional, spiritual transition, you have, most likely, not been a teen for quite sometime. Memories are tricky things.  Deep emotional responses will feature more prominently than any rational response during the same incidents. You may find your “no one understands me” memories a stronger reflective internal dialogue on the mentality of that particular season of life than the 1+1=2 facts of what actually occurred.

Developmentally what is happening to our young men and women?

Firstly, if properly nurtured, the past 10-13 years in their lives have been a rich and full season of gathering information, absorbing language, mastering basic skills and general education followed closely by gaining relational survival methods.  Now they believe they are ready to begin examining, evaluating and defining their life’s accumulated knowledge and experience. It seems a good time to build a foundation of personal standards defining righteousness for themselves and the world around them as well as eliminating those things from their world which are deemed unworthy of their time or attentions.  Naively, they dive in with the passion and zeal reserved for those who have no idea how much it can hurt.

core teen imperative

Time and opportunities to gain wisdom have dictated, to those of us with sprinkles of silver in our hair, a simpler understanding of life:

All is not what it appears and grace is more useful than right-ness. 

We live in more gray than we do in black and white.

The teen brain’s needs to dialogue, question, & evaluate are as much a core imperative as the longing they once had to cuddle in our arms and sing silly songs in a baby lisp.

Surely it would be a disservice to this group of idividuals if we failed to recognize the physiology in flux and the Six Flags Amusement park on a summer weekend that encompasses the chemical gymnastics happening in their brains.

Robert J. Hedaya, M.D., D.F.A.P.A., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Hospital and Founder of the National Center for Whole Psychiatry, writes in an article for Psychology Today,

“…under the influence of massive new hormonal messages, as well as current needs and experiences, the teenager’s brain is being reshaped, and reconstructed. Information highways are being speeded up (a process called myelination), and some old routes, closed down (this is called pruning); some are re-routed and reconnected to other destinations. And above all, old information highways are making lots of new connections to other highways, and other cites and towns (this is called sprouting). It’s a massive construction project, unlike anything that occurs at any other time in life. In such as situation, things rarely flow smoothly, and surprise destinations thrive. This reconstruction explains why the personality and stability that was evident just a year or two before adolescence recedes, and suddenly new perspectives, and reactions abound.”  (Full article HERE) (Emphasis mine.)

This phase of tying together seemingly unrelated thoughts is, to their developing mentality, a crucial step in the developing their sense of self, individual identity, and consequentially, precedes solidifying adult personality and character.  This is a part of the process which makes possible the faith beyond “…that of a child…” which the Apostle Paul speaks of in his epistle to the Corinthians.

 But, what does this mean and what  do I do with it?  

Come back in a bit  for my conclusion to this thought process as well as a comparison of a popular Christian book on parenting with the Art of War by Sun Tzu, ca 544 B.C.E.

Dating Advice from Teen Boys

heartsadvice.pngDriving my little white SUV down to the skate park today, filled to the gills with adolescent boys from 12-15, I decided to ask some questions about relationships. They are all thinking about it, right?

We laugh a lot, these boys and I, so I wanted to be sure to give them a second to speak comfortably about the issues on their minds.

I had recently seen a video about communication and, after almost 19 years of marriage, found it hilariously relatable.

So, in keeping with what I had seen, the first question was this:

What should I do if I’m talking to my boyfriend about my problems and he won’t listen?

Boy (age 12): Punch him!

Boy (age 13): Keep talking.

Boy (age 14): Ask him what he thinks. Break up with him if he won’t listen.

Boy (age 15):  Maybe come back later?  When he’s ready to hear you?

Madonna is singing about dancing with somebody, we’re cruising down a main street looking for somewhere for me to hang out while they get their cool on and I’m thinking, “Not bad, boys, not bad at all.”

Second Question, this one a bit more challenging:

You are hanging out with a bunch of your guy friends and a group of girls comes over.  You only know one girl, who is seriously friendzoned but she has a crush on you.   You think her friend, whom you have never met, is cute and looks like someone you’d like to get to know.  How do you proceed….

Boy (age 12):  Punch her!

Boy (age 13): I’d just hang out with the whole group and get to know the other girl as much as I could.  Maybe see if both girls would want to hang out with me and some of my friends some time.

Boy (age 14): I’d hang out with all of them and then invite the other girl to something separate.

I interjected, “What about the girl who had a crush on you? What would you do about her?”

Boy (age 14): big sigh Well, I don’t know. That’s hard.  Probably hang out as a group longer?

Boy (age 15):  I’d fake my death, get us passports and take the girl I like on an international trip.  I would change my name to Frederico.

Raised eyebrows all around… Laughter echoed over the sound of the AC and Madonna.

Boy (age 15):  Seriously, that’s hard.  Maybe I’d have to have a real talk with the girl who likes me.

I unleashed the third and final question as we are turning onto the street leading to the skate park.

You have a friend with a girlfriend who is really possessive and controlling. She calls your friend all the time and doesn’t “let” him go out and see you any more.  How do you respond to your friend?

Boy (age 12): Kidnap him, tie him up and force him to break up with her. (Are you sensing a theme?  He’s really not a violent kid.  It is just SUCH a perfect 12 year old boy answer!)

Boy (age 13): Maybe            I’d talk to him about how I miss him and how his behavior is making me feel.

Boy (age 14): I would tell him he had to choose between her and me.  (laughter all around)

Boy (age 15): I wouldn’t want someone like that.  I’d let him know that I’m going to go do a bunch of stuff; he is welcome to join me whenever he wants but I won’t wait around for him to decide.  He’ll have to come find me.

Overall, I thought the boys did very well.  Such a different response than I would imagine in a car full of girls. Not that I often have a car full of girls.

No one offered an intervention, no one wanted to cry, and no one talked about hurt feelings.

Only once was I asked, “Is that the right answer?”

Relationships are tricky things for adults.  Even when we have had years, even decades of practice we still, so often, get it wrong.

Our experience certainly doesn’t mean we are any better at it than they are.  It could be that we’ve been building relationships upside down and backwards and no one ever took the time to tell us there was a better way.

How many young men go into the wilds of relationship interaction with young women and have no idea how to navigate those waters?  It’s really not like riding a bike. Not even a little bit.  The hard earned maturity required for the subtlety and nuance of loving another person is not easily gained or maintained.

As inherently selfish critters, we all too often, forget the other person in our quest for personal fulfillment.  And even if it DOES go well?

Just because one relationship was easy, doesn’t make it possible for the rest of the world to fall in line.  It’s a scary world out there.

As a parent, in the safe cocoon of a strong marriage, a deep and growing friendship with my spouse, I long for this same joy to be experienced by my sons and the women they find.  At this stage, though, my heart cringes at the bumpy road they have ahead of them.   And, to be perfectly frank, I sincerely hope my children don’t date casually.

Casual dating is not the TV version. All too often it is hopping from one engaging heart to the next with minimal attachment until they are either broken down and don’t see the importance of the person in front of them or become immune to the sweetness of love.

Our society has an obsessive fascination with the pairing off of young people in a Hollywood plastic version of love which has created a soda pop romance incapable of standing up to the rigors of lost jobs, lost babies, and lost infatuation.

“Find the right one!!!” is heralded as the pinnacle of life’s greatest achievements.

“What about being the right one?” I often ask.

Oh… big sigh

That is our goal, you know?  To teach our sons about what it means to become the right one while we continue to work on doing the same.

Those boys… They sure taught me a lot this week.

Monday Morning Meditation Isaiah 40:11

shepherd leading.jpg

He is like… And He comes… Feeding, gathering, carrying, gently leading.   The One who counts the oceans by handfuls and spans the sky with a ruler.  The One who knows the measure of dust, puts mountains on scales, and balances the hills.

The words tell us a few things:

First, He has many attributes, many skills, many gifts.  But who is He?

A shepherd.  Feeding, gathering, carrying, gently leading the mother sheep.

And that resonates in my mother’s heart on this day after Mother’s Day with all of its pageantry and brunches, flowers and gifts.  Underneath all of it…

He cradles the lambs tenderly against His chest and gently leads the mother sheep…

That’s me.

He carries my lambs, His lambs,  and shows me in sweet kindness where I should go.

It was a bright summer morning and I was overwhelmed with one, resounding, echoing thought…

“How can I know that my boys will follow Christ?  How can I insure this legacy of faith we are building to invest into our children?”

They were little, 6 and 8, and couldn’t care less about such big ideas.   But my heart ached for some kind of confidence that I could let go of this anxiety that welled up in me.  What are the odds?  What are the statistics?

For Christian children to leave their parent’s home and maintain their faith is becoming an anomaly, not the norm.  And I pondered my own journey and the struggles within our family trees until fear gripped my heart.

“Please God, keep them!”, I whispered over the pile of soapy dishes while Mr. Rogers sang of fish and friendship in the living room. In that desperate moment, the quietest voice whispered to my  heart… With truth and conviction I have held onto these words as one would harbor a precious jewel.

“I am the perfect Father and yet, My children wander.  Trust Me with your children. Teach them of Me.  Trust Me to keep them.”

The anxiety melted off like mist, my shoulders straightened, and we moved forward from that day.  Peace filled my heart for I had been gently led while the Good Shepherd cradled my lambs on His chest.

Linking up with Girl Meets Paper for Monday Morning Meditation

The Private Parent

I have the most interesting discussions with my sons…

On the veritable cusp of manliness, we talk more now than we ever have and our discussions range from “Why did you cut your own hair when you were 4?” to “Why don’t bananas turn smoothies yellow?”  All deep. All the time.

We have entered into what I have affectionately, and admittedly somewhat counter-culturally labeled ~ The Golden Years.

boys.png

I have no words for how much I adore my teen boys with their stark realities.  All those hard lines jumbled with relative idealism and a worldly naiveté that both frustrates and challenges me.  Convicts and inspires. Always refining. They are my heart.

We have a strong relationship, the boy-bots and I.  And that isn’t a pretense or wishful thinking.  We still hold hands driving down the road.   There are daily walk by hugs and kisses rained down upon my curly head. We sit long in the driveway and talk by the light of  motion sensors on the corners of the garage, waving hands to keep the lights on and the shadows at bay.

It is my daily prayer to cherish each and EVERY moment of their presence.   Even the trying ones.

When they were babies I looked forward to toddlers and I wasn’t disappointed.  They made me laugh, cry, cackle maniacally, and pray.  Oh, how we have prayed.

But, honestly?  More than we prayed?  We worked hard.  We worked on manners like “Please” and “Thank You”, “Excuse Me”, and “Can I help you?”

We noticed people in the grocery store who needed a door opened, a cart returned, a cascade of falling change returned by eager grubby hands and smile saying, “Are these yours?”   We talked about big ideas like love, honor, kindness, grace, gentleness, and compassion.

You see, I have always had an end game in mind for my sons.  I know the vision of the men they can become. 

If we work hard.  Every day.

As they grew, and were welcomed everywhere we went, it wasn’t uncommon to hear, “You are SOO lucky!”   Honestly, the words always felt like a slap in the face.

Because really?

Luck has nothing to do with it.

See, you weren’t there for the fourth dropped cup of milk and the time out or spanking due to rude behavior.   No one else oversaw the treasured item boxed up for a month or two so we could relearn how to value the things God had given us stewardship over.   We didn’t have help settling rebellious 5,6,7,8 year olds who thought they should be able to go to bed whenever it suited them and not when it was time.  You didn’t see the gagging 6 year old who got to drink vinegar for lying and the red faced apology to the neighbor for behaving badly. (Additional Info for clarification: So, vinegar consumption clarified: It was a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Coupled with a lengthy discussion on the “taste” of a lie in the ear of the hearer. There was copious gagging, coughing, hystrionics, and then it was over. He gagged a little.)

No one saw the cumulative hours we spent at dinner encouraging proper manners, kind conversation, or polite responses to new and unappealing foods.

No… When we went out our door, we had practiced and practiced until we were ready.  Then we ventured.

And some one would invariably say, “You are sooo lucky.”

Back to the conversation with my boy… We were talking about evalutating a difficult situation and his review of my job performance.

As a person, and especially as a parent, I don’t have many mountains to die on, however,  I’ve always strongly adhered to one common theme  learned early in our marriage.

Encourage in public.  Exhort in private.

Private can mean a group of close and trusted friends with the purpose of bringing light and encouragement.   Public could be in front of a single untrustworthy acquaintance.

Wisdom knows the difference.

But mostly?  Private means private.  At home.  With family.   Face to face.

That’s where my parenting happens.   Not with loud voices, or accusations, name calling, or volatile emotional outbursts that slice and dice tender young hearts until compounded anger, bitterness, resentment, and emotional scars block the sound of my love.   No… With clear instruction,  waiting for the opportune moment even if it is days away, discussion.  Bold parameters when conversation fails us.  It is our privilege and our responsibility to be the safe place, the immovable refuge, the unwavering boundary while they struggle.

We pray together.

It is a family mandate that we own our poor behavior and ask for forgiveness from each other.

Behind our closed door.  In the safety of upholstered seats and throw pillows we hash out our issues, and we have plenty, until we are ready to walk forward into the light of day.

Because once we are out that door?

The only thing I want my boys to think about is that their reputations, their struggles, their honor is safe. Upheld.  

More than encouragement and lofty praise, my soon to be grown men crave respect.

All the best intentions and carefully constructed relational safeguards are gone like a puff of smoke the moment I shred them in public, humiliating them by behavior better suited to an insolent toddler than the man-child towering over me.  I have become the enemy and they are blinded to me by the shame of their nakedness, their awkward becoming exposed to an unkind, mocking world.

Our children wear thin cloaks of dignity.  Easily shredded.   Difficult to repair.   Once gone?  Very expensive to replace.

So, when a situation raised its ugly head and we huddled to discuss quietly, my son, using his “right of a reasonable and respectful appeal”, offered to share his side of the story and clarity emerged so that the appropriate consequence could be found for the right individual.

I took a deep breath and listened.   I evaluated the people I knew in front of me.   I listened some more.   And then, together, we made a decision to act.

That conversation I’ve alluded to?  Well, in the car ride home, my boy said quietly from the back seat, “Mom,  thanks for talking to us privately and giving us a chance to talk.”   A long-fingered hand reached across from the passenger seat while an ever deepening voice said,  “Love ya, Mom.”

They get it.

I’m on their side.  They trust me. It’s not luck.  It’s hard work.  It’s all the things we do at home.

Because if we don’t do it at home?

There is no point in even attempting the facade in public.

Story Line –> Of Adjustments

adjustmentsHe was small.  His tiny hand found mine easily in the store, on the walk, in the quiet of morning’s calm.   I traced every wrinkle and crease on those small hands, memorized every perfect detail of his face, smoothed frowns into peace and frustration into a moment to learn something new.

Without stopping for me to catch up, he grew.

From tiny hands to 6′ towers of awkwardness wrapped in Hurley and skinny jeans, propelled by an unquenchable desire to do more, explore, define self…  And I still trace his hands, the line of his shoulders, remembering.  His rough hands with shredded cuticles and broken fingernails still reach out to hold me as he tucks my small hand in the crook of his arm and leads me through the store, on a walk, soft hair on my shoulder in the quiet of a morning’s calm.

Somethings don’t change as we grow.

Continue reading