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My son, Nicholas, smushed his oatmeal between his fingers and shoved as much as he could into his mouth. “Here, son,” I said to him. “Use your spoon like this.” I wrapped his tiny fingers around the spoon and guided him as we scooped a spoonful from the bowl and into his mouth. The next bite, he tried it on his own, grinning when he made it into his mouth, not minding that he hadn’t swallowed yet. Not too bad for a 20 month old, I thought.
I lay in bed listening to Nick and his younger brother giggle and play in their room. Our house, a tiny little two-bedroom, one bath, had thin walls allowing them no privacy in their conversations. What a joy it was to hear them together! I began the prayer I prayed every day during those years, “Lord, thank you for my beautiful children. Help me to know how to parent them and not mess them up too much!” A funny prayer, I know, but my fear of doing and saying the ‘right’ things caused me excessive worry.
Six year old Nick came to me ready for church. I helped him tuck in his shirt. “Mom?” he asked me, “Does God care if my shirt is tucked in?” “No, son,” I told him. “But it’s good to be respectful and present yourself nicely. There will be times you can’t, and that’s okay, but when you can, you should.” He nodded, hearing every word and trying so hard to be grown up.
We stood on the tennis courts, Nick listening to my instruction. Before I began drilling him on his forehand, he jumped up. “Wait, Mom. I need to run some sprints first. Remember, you told me conditioning was just as important as learning the groundstrokes.” And off he went, his growing, sturdy ten-year-old legs running as fast as they would go.
A group of Nick’s 8th grade classmates invited him to the movies. “Is your homework finished?” I asked him. He raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes. “Momm, it’s fine. I already did it.” I looked at him, trying to catch his eye but he went from trying to stare defiantly at me to averting his gaze. “Please be careful with your attitude,” I told him. “Ugh,” he gasped. “I don’t have a bad attitude.” I countered, “You do. I think you’d better stay home.” He stomped away and slammed his bedroom door behind him.
I glanced at the clock. 8:30 – a half hour past when Nick was supposed to text to let us know he’d made it to his friend’s house. I’d tried calling him, but his phone went straight to voicemail, the phone we’d gotten him so that he could ‘check-in’ with us now that he was 16 and wanting to go out more often with his friends. My husband, Mark, left to track him down. Nick had the nerve to get mad at us when we made him come home and took his phone away temporarily.
The flu had struck. I lay in bed dozing, trying to sleep my way to feeling better. I heard the door creak open but didn’t have the energy to open my eyes and see who it might be. Soft footsteps padded their way across the room. My eyelids stayed closed. I felt movement and then breath on my forehead. “Get better, Mom,” I heard Nick whisper. He kissed me gently on the forehead and said, “I love you.” Softly, he left the room, not knowing that I had heard every word. With my eyes still closed, I smiled. No matter the tough teen years, my 20 year old Nick had turned out just fine.
Related Posts (more about my kids):
5 Favorite Verses to Teach Your Preteen Daughter – empowering my daughter with scripture and using my relationship with Christ to be a better parent.
Granting God’s Grace in Difficult Situations – how I handled it when my teenage son and his girlfriend got pregnant.
10 Prayers for My Teenage Daughter – prayers for all I hope for my daughter as she goes through her teen years.
Love in Him,