My older son is almost as tall as me. His feet are the same size as mine, and he eats considerably more food than I do, packing it into some mysterious bigger-on-the-inside digestive organ that apparently only teenage boys possess. He is intense in his pursuit of whatever he is pursuing, like science fiction and computer stuff and looking for the lost screwdriver and bossing his siblings. He has always been this way– so intense that he used to wear me out with the obsession with Thomas the Tank engine, and, even before that, his never-to-be-distracted scrutiny of ceiling fans. How many times was he so convinced he was right— that that triangle WOULD fit into the circle-shaped hole? He would try and try and get so mad that triangle and shape ball would eventually fly across the room. He knows a whole lot about a whole bunch of stuff, and is juggling two years of math in one and two different history classes and three long, complicated, to-be-memorized piano pieces for his recitals in the spring. He frequently fixes my frying pan when the handle starts getting all wobbly, and I’ll find it all firm and sturdy in its place in the lazy susan and smile, because he can be so thoughtful. And then I’ll find my measuring cups all tossed carelessly into the cupboard and roll my eyes because he can be so thoughtless, too. Teenage boy? Yes, ma’am. Completely amazing and completely human? Of course. I love this young man. I could use some of his intensity sometimes, his hardheaded pursuit of his goals. I give up far too easily.
My younger son needs a haircut and revels in the helpless messiness of his shaggy brown locks. He laughs so hard sometimes I’m afraid he’ll fall down. Sometimes he does fall down laughing, literally rolling-on-the-floor-laughing, and who can help but laugh too? He isn’t a teenager yet, but the day is coming– there are signs, and not just the way he can wolf down two bacon cheeseburgers and a helping of waffle fries in the time that it takes me to eat my smallish salad with lowfat dressing. He reads a million books at a time and who knows if or when he finishes any of them, and when he grows up I’m pretty sure he wants to go off with Han and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon, but I have hope that he will eventually choose a career path in this galaxy. He used to be my cuddliest child, but he’s starting to think that maybe it would be better if I didn’t put my arm around him or–horrors!— kiss him in public. And heaven forbid I refer to him by anything other than his regular old first name outside the confines of our home. Nicknames are not cool when you’re twelve and play a shiny blue guitar and deliberately make your hair stand up just to make your mom crazy. He struggles with school, but I see his progress and I rejoice in it and respect him so much for coming back day after day to try again, even though English spelling rules are basically nonsensical and why do we need eight different ways to spell the sound of long o anyway? He is caught in that stage between teenager and kid, and he goes along with his brother’s schemes just as well as he plays with his little sister, and he is funny and makes me laugh and sometimes puts the coffee mugs in where the glass measuring cups go, but who’s keeping track anyway? I could learn from this boy– learn to go with the flow a little bit more, learn to get lost in a book or in my own little world, learn to follow sometimes and not worry so much about always being the boss of everything.
My daughter– she is silly and sensitive and so hard to explain. She loves her friends so much, and she loves singing and dressing up and running around and playing with her dolls. She shrieks like a banshee and sings like an angel and likes to curl up on my lap and talk to me. She loves it when I tickle her, or really when I do anything that shows I’m paying attention to her, because she is the poster child for Quality Time as a love language. She panics whenever I try to teach her something new– panics and cries and says she doesn’t understand as I show her again and again how to regroup the numbers or write the cursive m or solve the equation. And then suddenly she stops crying and she’s rolling her eyes and saying she gets it and why do I keep showing it to her anyway? People say she’s my mini-me, but I see plenty of her daddy’s family in her strong jaw and the way she quirks her mouth when she’s smiling all coy. Personality, though? She’s so much mine– all the big drama and big voice and big extroverted tendencies. And the insecurities, too. How do we pass those on? It doesn’t seem fair. What if she could be that big wide-open girl without the fear and worry and insecurity? I don’t know how to help her except to keep on loving her, offering those snuggles, trying to point her to Jesus. I could be like her, too, you know– more buoyant and full of fun, more willing to just love people with a big, fierce, wild love. I could be more willing to forgive, more quick to laugh.
Do you ever wonder, when you stop for a moment and think, who’s teaching whom anyway? I’m just a mom, lost in a mess of schoolbooks and laundry and dreams and fights about whose turn it is to take out the recycling bin. I’m unworthy and inadequate and completely clueless how to do all this parenting stuff.
These three? They amaze me. I want to be like them when I grow up.