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almost 18, and still taking baby steps

February 21st, 2012 | 3 Comments »

This boy of mine, a man-child with the deep voice and winsome smile, self-sufficient and capable who is learning to drive and manage a bank account and negotiate girls and friendships….. so much that’s happening with him on every passing day but he can’t seem to manage taking a shower without a few heavy knocks on the door.

And on occasion, shutting off the hot water and giving him ‘The Big Chill’.

As battles go, I know this one is pretty low on the priority scale. When we say ‘Be home by midnight’ he’s usually walking in the door around 11:30. When he has a sleepover with his friends, the worst thing they do is consume too much junk food and pop.
He makes his own breakfast and lunch. When we ask for him to manage dinner, he makes us a feast. If I leave him a task list before I go to work, it’s complete by the time I come home. He still likes to hang out with us, watching a movie or TV show. He washes his own clothes without our prompting, he willingly goes to church, he loves to read and he enjoys good friendships with his band of brothers from his Youth Group, and with his cousins.

But, he still needs ‘The Big Chill’.

He’s not sneaking out of the house after we’re asleep, to meet friends who encourage illicit activities. He’s not coming home from hanging out with his pals sporting telltale signs of substance abuse or alcohol consumption. He’s not stealthily smoking cigarettes, chasing after all kinds of girls, committing vandalism, TP-ing houses, terrorizing neighbors. We trust his friends, and that goes far. If the worst offense he encounters away from the protection of our wings is a trip to Chipotle after his rec league basketball game, then I consider us pretty darn lucky.

Then come those morning, and we have to flip that knob that cuts the flow of hot water, because the knock at the door and the responding ‘Ok.’ haven’t made a bit of difference.

He turns 18 in April, and yet, in no way in this man-child an adult. Maybe in some ancient time, when life was far different and everyone needed to be so much more self-sufficient, and when the life expectancy was more like 30, when we didn’t have the ability to thrive in to our 80′s or higher, when the dangers of life could take their toll far quicker and more exacting, maybe then 18 was adulthood, worthy of responsibility, of letting go and watching them spread their own wings to fly. Used to be that a girl of 18 who was unmarried was considered too old. A time existed that man of 18 had all the markings of adulthood;  a wife, a homestead and his own team of horses. But this isn’t the case now.

And that’s all right with me. I wasn’t ready to fly by myself either at that age. And although he moves closer to finding his own freedom every day, and we plot to move him in the right direction, he still has moments where he sits down by me, just wanting my proximity. He still loves it when I grab him in a huge hug, and hold on tight. He can figure out his future, take stock of what he wants from it and try to make it all work out and I can sit back and enjoy the process of seeing him test those wings, listening and supporting his ideas. I find a few things to tease him about, but it’s a huge stretch to do so, because this boy of mine, for all those moments of forgetfulness, when he doesn’t recall the task list I left or simply decides he doesn’t want to do what we ask, well those are few and far between. And as parenting a teenager goes, it’s an awfully good thing going on here, worthy of the pride it evokes.

If my only vice with him is that he is soothed by a long, hot shower in the morning, then I’ve got little to complain about.

{{Just Write 23}} is happening, over at The Extraordinary Ordinary.
Won’t you head over there and read some of the other posts?? 

3 Responses to “almost 18, and still taking baby steps”

  1. Gianna says:

    My oldest is almost 7 and absolutely wonderful. But there are times when she just doesn’t do “it” (whatever it might be) and we are hard on her.

    Sometimes I feel guilty for being hard on her. I hope we aren’t so hard that we cause her resentment, but if that’s the only thing that is a learning opportunity, sometimes you gotta take what you can get, right?

  2. Kristin says:

    Oh Kate, this made me feel so much better to know I’m not the only mom cutting off the hot water to my teen son’s extremely long showers :)

  3. Mellissa says:

    18 is such an in between stage, you are adult and go off to college and make these large decisions but at the same time should you really be making decisions like that so soon. Such a hard spot to be in!