Deep down, I knew.
Any mom worth her salt recognizes that silence is not necessarily golden.
Oh, it’s good but trust me…it’s not good.
His art medium of choice was an entire tube of tartar control toothpaste. Our dusty coffee table served as his canvas. I walked in the living room just in time to witness Pablo Picasso Junior using both of his chubby hands to work the bright blue paste to the outer edges of the table. It was obvious this artist considered any uncovered wood a blemish to his masterpiece.
“What tha? What are you DOING?!”
He looked up at me. Oh heck no, those big brown eyes weren’t going to set him free this time.
“That is a No-No!” I said as I snatched the sticky tube out of his hand. “I can’t believe you did this!” I shot out as I wiped at the mess with a soaked wad of paper towels.
And just before the chalky crust had completely hardened over his hands…he said it.
“YOU SHOULD’VE BEEN KEEPING AN EYE ON ME.”
Anyone who thinks a two year old can’t call checkmate on a parent is in denial.
I turned to him speechless. Finally I mustered up the best response I could come up with. “Well, you should have been keeping an eye on yourself.”
He was right though. I should’ve been keeping an eye on him. The kid was way too smart.
Fast forward 13 years. He’s 15 now. And today is a snow day. He’s bundled up in his heavy coat heading to hang out with the neighborhood kids. Sledding, hot cocoa, and chapped cheeks are on the agenda. Before he reaches the door, he stops at the sink to kiss me on the cheek. I turn to him to request a favor.
“Hey, I’m going to write a blog post today. Can I ask you a question?
“What’s the one thing that you think teens wish their parents knew?
“You know, to help us survive the teen years.”
“Help the teens survive?”
“No, Son,” I sigh. “Focus. To help us parents survive you guys.”
“Oh okay,” he says as he tilts his head back and squints his eyes. “We wish that parents knew that what we say and do is not what we are really saying and doing.”
The answer was too quick-I didn’t get it. However, I resisted the urge to look at him like he had just grown a third eye and simply said, “Okay, thanks. Have fun.”
And then the old sage disappeared into the great white outdoors.
But as I finished up the breakfast dishes, I thought about what he had just said.
I thought a lot about it, actually.
And these things I know to be primarily true.
Teens actually love you, but they don’t always want to be around you.
Teens generally want to do the right thing but they often choose the wrong thing.
Teens want to be individuals, but they want to be just like everyone else.
Teens really do want your rules, but they will disobey them.
Teens have so much they want you to know, but they’d prefer not speak to you.
The irony escapes no one. No wonder we parents are a little crazy. Who can parent under these conditions!?
But just know if all this makes us a little crazy, it’s really doing a number on them.
Like just this week. Right here. In my little community.
75 photos of nude females were shared online at our local NC high school, the youngest being 14.
At a different high school, a line of high school boys formed in the school bathroom as a female student performed sex acts on them.
Two 6th grade girls at the middle school where I guest spoke asked me why a pregnant teen didn’t “just get an abortion.”
A vigil was held for a teen who committed suicide. His mom says he was bullied at school.
Yeah, it’s doing a number on them for sure. And what they are saying and doing isn’t what they are really saying and doing.
Those teen girls aren’t taking naked pics of themselves for their own personal portfolio. They do it because they desperately need someone to validate their beauty.
And the high school girl whose self worth was forfeited to the boys waiting in line to use her up sure didn’t do it for sexual pleasure. She did it because she is screaming for someone to show her that she matters, even if it’s for a brief moment.
Those 6th grade girls are only believing what they’ve been taught. The lie that there is a harmless way out of the huge responsibility of parenting. It’s not that they have such little regard for the sanctity of human life and the beauty of creation; they have just never been told the truth about it.
And no young man really wants to end his life. He’s just worn out and tired from years of bullying and belittling.
“What we say and do is not what we are really saying and doing.”
This makes a little more sense to me than it did this morning. I think I need to thank my boy for the reminder.
I won’t stop talking to him even when he acts like he doesn’t want to be around me.
I will listen more.
I’ll continue to enforce rules even when he disobeys.
I’ll remain open and honest about his world and use the Word of God to prepare him for the things he will need to battle against.
I’ll reinforce the fact that he is a precious, priceless gift from our Heavenly Father to us and how much I admire him for his strength of character.
That kid is smart.
I’m going to have to keep an eye on him.