Thursday, March 27, 2008

Of Teens and Preschoolers

Last night as Matthew returned from youth group, he dropped his coat on the hall tree, grabbed a drink, bounded up the stairs and in to our room where he declares "Mom, tomorrow I have to look for a job." My stunned brain could not wrap itself around that declaration quickly enough to respond with anything but "after you finish your school work" as he bounded back out of our room. After he left it seemed like hours passed before I could pry my fingers off of the book I had been reading, force my eyes to blink at least once, and return my jaw to its normal, upright position. And then, instead of thinking about how wonderful it was that he finally was going to start taking some responsibility for his own success, I began to wonder what he was up to.

Could it be that he needed some money to pay off the skateboard bookie apparently running numbers on ollies around the corner from church? No, it couldn't be that. Hmmm... maybe he was so inspired by the message from his cell leader that he had dedicated his remaining teen years to missions giving and wanted to get started right away. Uh, no. I'm not sure that Matthew consciously realizes there is a world beyond his own most of the time even though we are constantly reminding him. Hmmm... Perhaps he had an intense meeting with the Lord and was planning to get responsible in record time. Nah. I'd have been able to tell that by his demeanor, wouldn't I? There must be something he wanted to buy that he didn't think he could ask us to get for him and I'm sure I spent much of my restless sleep last night trying to figure out what that might be.

This morning the house was relatively quiet until after 8. We'd all gotten to bed late so I let them enjoy an extra hour of sleep. Soon, however, even their bodies knew it was time to get up and they wondered down for breakfast. It took every ounce of my being to wait patiently for Matthew to expound on his desires just 12 hours earlier. I didn't have long to wait. Before I knew it, I was listening to all of the wonderful things he'd achieved skateboarding before and after services the night before. At first I thought he was imagining the need for a new board. That made sense and he knew we were done buying them. But no, that didn't seem to be it. After all, he was talking about modifying the one he'd gotten for his birthday last year. Perhaps he wanted to buy a half or quarter pipe and I began thinking of all of the reasons why one didn't need to 'live' in our back yard. But no. That wasn't it either.

As Matthew talked, Laura had stopped her "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" dance routine as she became enthralled with his exciting stories of moves and tricks he accomplished the night before. She climbed up on my lap, silently willing Matthew's success at each trick he explained with every ounce of her little being. It wasn't long before he said "So Mom, I need a new helmet." Ah, the answer. A simple helmet. We'd be willing to get that as it was for his safety. Hey! Wait a minute! Didn't we already have a helmet that HE picked out and now adamantly refused to wear because it is *gasp* stupid?!?!?! Surely that helmet would work just fine. Surely he could wear it now. Matthew, ever watchful and apparently becoming much better at anticipating his parents response, waited for my mouth to begin opening to declare his ownership of a perfectly good helmet before he jumped in with "Really, Mom. It's too small. I need a new one. Before next week."

Immediately my aging mind started flipping through all of the responses I could give at the moment, weighting them in such categories as 'logical to adults but not teens', 'worth stating even if he isn't listening', 'not worth the long term arguments that will ensue' and so on. In my quiet yet quick contemplation, I happened to notice that Laura's head had come up from my shoulder and was now trained on my face. Could she, even as a budding four year old understand the dynamics of our conversation? Surely not! But, oh how wrong I was. Almost as quickly as the silence had entered the conversation, Matthew chose to attempt to make his point must one more time. "Really Mom. It's too small. My head has grown. I NEED a new helmet."

My eyes began making the journey from off in space, past Laura's face and up to Matthew's. But I never got past Laura's face. As his words hit her, she looked up at me, rolled her eyes, sighed and shook her head. Yes, even she understood the argument for what it was. And didn't hesitate to express her thoughts. The tension coming from Matthew was growing. I could choose to make matters worse and address his comments or I could relieve the tension by sharing Laura's response with him. I chose the latter. Yes, we all laughed. Yes, I'm sure Laura will do that again now that she's had tremendous reinforcement. No, the issue of a new helmet didn't get past that final plea. Will it be revisited again soon? Probably. Will it come out differently? Probably. But one thing is certain. Laura has teenage logic all figured out.

I can only hope that as those preteen and teenage hormones sweep through her in a few years, all of this wisdom will be swept right out of her system. If it's not, we're going to be dealing with a much more intelligent teen and I don't relish that one iota. Meanwhile, I'll start pricing helmets. Who knows. Maybe I'll get that garden weeded early this year. Yes! Love and logic can come in soooo handy, can't it? :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Had to check before going to bed to see if you had written anything today - and you didn't disappoint me - however, you didnt' tell us what Laura's comment was. I am left hanging! What adorable thing did she say?