I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped.
— Fritz Perls
Of late I’ve been sneaking into his room at night to watch him sleep. Mountains of covers and pillows in the pale glow of his night lamp. The old rocker is gone, but his middle-school desk came with a writing chair that leans back, and from which I can measure the slow rise and fall of his breathing.
I take my quality time when I can get it.
He’ll be thirteen this year. Hard to believe I set out my shingle here nearly five years ago.
I haven’t been posting much lately not because I don’t have anything to say, but because of a promise I made when I started—that nothing would appear here I wouldn’t want him to read.
It’s hard, these surly teen years now beginning. Facing the scylla and charybdis of spilling versus censoring, I choose to censor. I’m reminded of a story the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev told on himself once. It seems there was a man who publicly called Khrushchev an idiot. “I had him arrested,” Khrushchev said, “For revealing state secrets.”
Here’s a state secret: Some days around here it seems Nick and I are made of complaints. Complaints about habits, complaints about manners, complaints about the weather. One might almost think that if an argument didn’t exist between us, we’d have to invent it.
The manuals say the teen years are about separating—the young taking their first, tentative steps as individuals moving in their own circles. “Whatever I am,” the child says to the parent, “It isn’t you.” I get that. In many ways it’s always been that way–wasn’t that the purpose of sending him to a primary school like Fern Hill?
Let him be him, I say; stop trying to make him into me, doing it right. Easy words. Hard practice.
At Fern Hill, parents were welcome any time. At The Grove of Academe, where Nick goes now, a mom or dad better have good reason to venture in the front door during school hours. How I miss that open gate policy. Yet great new things are emerging from school now. The image above–it’s from the Temple at Karnack, which 3D video tour Nick created in Minecraft for his history class. Not a thing I’d have been able to pull of at his age. Take the whole tour here, if you’ve a mind.
NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
A parenting blog I read listed five New Year’s resolutions for being a better parent. Number One: Resolve to work on regulating your own emotions. Number Two: Resolve to love the one you’re with. You can read the rest in the link below, but the above were enough of a one-two punch for me.
My emotions? Oh, anger, denial, depression, bargaining—the whole catastrophe. From my journal (my other journal, the one I don’t publish):
Nick is a separate person from me. Nick is who he is. Nick has his challenges. Nick has his abilities. They are what they are. I can’t change them. I don’t have control over Nick. If I expect that by practicing this, I can ensure Nick won’t fly of the handle, then I haven’t really practiced.
Loving the one I’m with? Also from my journal:
Nick is a person who needs my love and acceptance. Whenever I feel my love for him, let him know. Whenever he does something I like, tell him. Find something to tell him, and to love in him, ten times a day. Spend half an hour with him every day doing what he wants. Treat him as well as I would my best friend. Remember if I’m not blessing him, I’m cursing him.
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE
So: love, and separate. These are my mantras now. Which brings me back to his room at night. Once I went to his room at bedtime to rock and cradle him. Now I watch, and remember, fill my heart, and let go.
I had no father to rebel against when I became a teen ager, although I’m sure that if I had had one, I would have rebelled. Obviously, I would have regarded my dad as the same blockhead I’ve so truly become in my son’s eyes.
As I write this, Nick has wandered in. He’s read the first few paragraphs.
“Dad, you come into my room and watch me when I’m sleeping? That is so weird.”
My point exactly.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
Five Resolutions. From Aha Parenting.
Just Add Father is still listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)
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