I think I've discovered a wrinkle in this 'parenting teens' thing. A rather big one I didn't expect. After all, we are programmed from their conception (and possibly before) to expect teenagers to reject the maturation process, to cling to childish ways, and to attempt to pull things over on us no matter how well we parent - or don't as the case may be. But some children apparently resist such expected behaviors - it could be that they've heard something akin to "Sorry, the fact that you are a teenager is no excuse" for several years. Or maybe it is because those who are wise enough to skip the 'expected' route realized at an early age that responsibility was the key that opened privileged doors. Or maybe I'm just blessed. But apparently I wasn't prepared.
I was up early this morning. I'd gotten 6 hours of straight sleep. Yes, I said 6 hours. Uninterrupted. Solid. Blessed sleep. So by the time the rain woke me up at 4:30, I was good to go. I popped in some laundry (a great activity for those insomniac nights I'm told), perused the news to see what the talking heads were saying about Sarah Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson last night, checked the weather for Matthew's YFC event at the stadium with the Indians tomorrow, and renewed the joys of a cold gulp of caffeinated energy. And then I sat down to see how Matthew was doing in his classes. He has classes with BOSS four days a week this year, and he's entered the wonderful world of High School so life is a bit more demanding for him.
As I perused his assignments and grades, I noted that he had one due today that he had yet to turn in but I figured he'd get to it before classes this morning. I flipped to the grades page. In the first class he's making an A - 100%. Another class has him at 95% - still an A. Not bad. He's doing what he is capable of doing. And then I flipped to his third class. And I note a big fat "0" grade. As in nothing. No points. Nada. *sigh* My mind begins to turn to his activities on the day it was assigned and the following day when it was due. Yes, he indeed had time to finish the assignment. How dare he not do something that was due??? My parent blood began to boil. I never made it through the rest of his classes.
My mind quickly flipped through my options, checked the time and figured 6:15 was a great time to wake him up. After all, we needed to talk. I quietly snuck (is that a word?)in to his room, hoping that Jonathan and Laura would stay asleep for several more hours. As soon as I sat down, he rolled over and moaned "what?" as if he were expecting something bad had happened. In my mind I quickly thought "Oh Honey. You have NO idea..." and then took a quick, calming breath before saying "Did you know that you have an assignment due today that you haven't turned in yet?" He moans and says "I did it. I just didn't turn it in yet." I relaxed knowing he did this a lot last year. He'd do everything and then scan and submit it the following day. I was willing to let that go until I heard him say "At least I think I did..." I suggested he needed to get up and check that because he still had time to do it if he didn't.
Then I took a deep breath and said "Do you know that there is an assignment that was due Tuesday worth 15 points and you have 0? As in NO POINTS! How could you miss an assignment? Here I thought you were growing up and I didn't need to check your assignments regularly and I guess I was wrong." (Yeah, I should have stopped after the first sentence but my brain was elsewhere at that moment) There is a pause as he digests my tirade before he calmly says "I did it Mom. I turned it in." My response is quick and without thought. "Oh really? It says that you got zero points. Nothing. As if you didn't even try it. What was the assignment about?" He lifts up his head, turns to me and asks if that is the assignment that was to be done in complete sentences. I nod in the affirmative. He flops back on his pillow and says "Mom. I did it. He just hasn't graded it yet. It says zero because the computer couldn't analyze our sentences and he has to review each submission. I guess he hasn't gotten to it yet." Then, as if to punctuate his proof positive that I've lost my Mother Mind, he tightens his stomach muscles and blasts out an rear-exit exclamation in true male fashion. *sigh*
I quickly realize I've jumped the gun. I've made assumptions that were untrue. I have doubted him when he has done just what he was supposed to do. I really don't need to check up on him regularly. He's growing up. My baby is growing up. In an effort to ease the tension before I apologize I start to make a fuss about his final, odiferous action. When we are both smiling once again I apologize and tell him I'm happy that I was wrong and I'm proud of how well he's handling high school and the transition to the increased work load. Then I cajole him in to getting up 30 minutes early in order to prevent the alarm from waking everyone up and head downstairs.
When I get to the bottom of the steps I stop, wrap my arms around myself and silently thank the Lord that my son is growing up. He's turning in to what I pray will be a strong man of God. With integrity and a positive attitude. I realize I need to change my way of handling him. I need to treat him more like the person he is becoming and not the person he was. And I thank the Lord that I have that opportunity. Here. At home. Every day. All day. Where I get to enjoy his wonderfully developing personality with warmth and humor much of the time.
And then I remember that yes, I get to spend all day, every day with this wonderful person. Even if he spends far too much time spitting out puns... I guess there's a downside to everything, eh? :)