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Friday, December 2, 2005

Parenting Secrets


Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, though he may depart from you, he will not depart from it.

~Proverbs 23:6 (words in italics mine)


We have had two exercises in letting go of growing children this week.  Thankfully, they have both been good experiences so far:

The first, as readers may know, was the trip to take Larry's fifteen-year-old son to a boy's ranch.  Long story long?  -- Read my previous post.  Long story short?  -- He is beginning a program that will last 12-18 months.  It will give him structure and accountability with lots of hard work, and responsibility.  The goal is to learn to make better choices, and get his life back on track.

Wednesday was the day -- but I am getting ahead of myself.  We had the pleasure of taking him shopping over the weekend for clothes and supplies.  Just the three of us.  It was just what Dad and I needed.  We saw a new kid, as he made trips in and out of the dressing room trying on jeans that don't sag or reveal his boxers. (Yeah for ranch rules!  I've been trying to enforce this one for two years.)  It's seems he's laughing more, smiling more, hugging more.  I think he's relieved and excited to be headed in a new direction.

So, Wednesday was the day.  We took two cars. (Mom in one, Dad, son and myself in the other, another blessing!)  Dad and I had written a letter to him about being proud of him, making good choices, and new beginnings.  He read it carefully in the back seat, and then smiled.  (It's been a long time since I've seen him smile that way.)  He told us thanks, and that he's going to tack it on his bulliten board in his room, so he can see it every day.  You would have thought he said he was naming his first-born after Dad.  It was a great moment for Larry.

We took him in, got him set up, signed paperwork, unpacked, and said our goodbyes.  It was tough, but there was so much hope in our son's eyes, that, talking later, we agreed that seeing it felt really good.  Walking away wasn't nearly as hard as we expected, because of that hope.  I think his relief stems from that feeling that he's turning a corner, and starting an adventure -- and he's doing it all without betraying mom by moving in with Dad. 

Our other experience was not nearly so dramatic, or painful:

Sarah, our 18 year old, is in Los Angeles.  She flew out from Tulsa early (dark-thirty a.m.) Thursday, on her own.  (She's flown to Ecuador and Peru before, but with a group.  She's flown alone, but only to Dallas.) 

After a five-hour flight, she waited at the airport for one of her girlfriends, who had a later flight in.  They met up with a whole group of girls who are attending this PBS taping for "the amazing Chris Botti".  (Sarah's own personal trumpeter, who extended an invitation and front row seats for her and a guest.) 

I am so thrilled for her.

But think about it.

How many things can a mom get anxious about in three days? 

-- Airport weirdos.

-- L.A. traffic.

-- Earthquakes.

-- L.A. weirdos. (every city's got 'em.)

-- Terrorism.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not stewing in constant, unreasonable worry.  But thoughts do cross my mind.  So I deal with them by giving her a call on the cell phone,  praying for her wisdom and safety, and being really thankful that she is so ecstatically happy seeing Chris, Sting, Paula Kohl, Gladys Knight, Billy Kilson, and others.

She's so (almost) grown up.

I am reminded that soon, she will pack up her things, and move away, to an apartment, or a college dorm, to another town, or another state...eventually marry, have children, live her own life, under another roof.

The closer it gets, the more I realize I will never be ready. 

But I am so excited for her.  May she always be this happy.

How do you deal with watching your first-born child, the one that changed your status from person to parent, as they prepare to launch out on their own, and leave your happy little nest?

Anyone know the secret?  Willing to share?

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