Saturday, June 02, 2007

Maturity 'R Us

In raising teens it seems you need an infinite amount of patience combined with lots of unconditional love, a never-ending ability to understand someone else's point of view, a tremendous grasp of the power of forgiveness, at least a minimal understanding of current culture and how it stacks up (or doesn't) with biblical principles, an ever-growing sense of humor, and very rough knees, deeply creased from the carpet. I find that there are moments in time where I have one or two of these, but rarely all at once. My normally quick mind is stunted now and then by the incredulous, wide-eyed stare I am powerless to stop as it looks on my teenager after he's done something rather questionable. It is the comical attempt at innocence in his face that usually brings me back to reality and helps my brain kick in to gear. Comic relief is always better than blowing up. A word of knowledge known as Parenting Tip #5.

I love my children more than I can ever express. They are a living, growing part of me. And in theory at least, they'll be around a lot longer than I will, and will someday appreciate all that we do in love for them now. But that doesn't mean that I have a complete grasp on how their constantly evolving brains work. And that is something the Lord and I are going to have to have to talk about someday. Why is it that he gave us the desire to create them and failed to provide such access??? Surely this time of growth would be so much more calm if only we were given the upper hand. :) But I live in reality most of the time so I'll just add it to the list of "Things I'll Never Really Know".

Most days I can see the wonderful young man my Matthew is growing in to as he enters the teenage years. He has a previously undiscovered ability to grasp the larger concepts, spout adult-like wisdom to his younger siblings, and take responsibility where he previously ignored it. My Mother's heart is encouraged by these times and I become complacent. Reveling in the good times. Forgetting the rough moments of last week, hoping that this time the change will last. But, as you all know, life gets in the way and he turns back in to the precious boy I once knew, blustering his way through something once again. I realize I'll think these moments are wonderful later, but now I'm having a hard time imagining that.

The other day while playing with his brother in the yard, Matthew made a unique discovery, one our struggling oak tree almost didn't survive. Given his knowledge of physics combined with previous experience, one can assume that Matthew would be able to look at a tree branch, figure out if it can hold him, and decide how to avoid it if there is even a question about his abilities to deter landing on his can or some other, equally valuable piece of bodily real estate. Apparently his maturity hasn't quite caught up with his knowledge base yet. But I'm sure, in time, with enough scars, broken bones and other trophies, he'll get it. I'm just not sure the trees will survive until then.

As I came around the corner of the house with Laura in tow, I happened to hear something like a small firecracker pop. My head swung around in an effort to be sure Laura was safe from any fallout and then I started scanning the neighborhood to see which group might be out celebrating a bit early. I saw nothing unusual. Then I heard the sound again. *crack* This time it was a wee bit louder. I pinpointed the direction and ran down the walkway, hoping to find the source. Once again I hear it, only this time it is followed by the sound of leaves rustling. I look up and start scanning the trees. Much to my amazement I find Matthew, hanging off all fours on a branch barely three inches round. He has this huge grin on his face and I begin to grasp the game he's playing. It seems he's wondering if he can let go before the branch does. It's a version of chicken I have yet to see played. It's a version I hope never happens again.

Resisting the urge to yell, my face automatically becomes as easy to read as one of the original "See Spot Run" series. My eyes open wide, my jaw drops, and my head takes on that 'I can't believe what I'm seeing' cock. As I move towards the tree, Matthew realizes he's no longer alone. Gingerly, hoping to avoid getting stabbed by some of the smaller branches, he smirks and then tries very hard to look innocent. He even says "What?" like there's nothing that needs explaining. My mind runs through all of my options. In seconds I cover everything from 'if you don't stop doing dumb stuff like this, we'll cut down every tree in the yard' (oh, come on! Don't tell me you've never thought of anything drastic like that in moments of stress!!!) to walking away, shaking my head. I settle on what seems the most logical at the moment and say "Just how do you think you'll explain this one to the ER Dr? He already thinks you're a few branches shy of a full tree given your last visit. I can't wait to see how this one comes out." And I stand still. It's hard. Especially as I hear a few more cracks as we're talking.

His head drops and he realizes he's a goner. He let's go of the poor branch and puts his feet once again on terra firma. "I'm sorry, Mom. I know you like the trees we have left. I'll go climb the maple, okay?" I smile and shake my head. Humor has saved the day. He's still in one piece, his heart is contrite, and my tree is still standing with all of its branches attached, hopefully ready to survive another day. Indeed he's growing up. We're all growing up. And I'm smiling to myself. Wondering how he'll handle it when his son is doing exactly the same thing to him.

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