Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On Raising Teens..........

I was all set to write about
yesterday's trip to the Seattle Children's Museum,
but something else is clouding my mind right now.
So, I'm going to share a few of my rambling thoughts
on raising teens.

I have no answers, mostly just questions.
A series of attempts, a few successes
and many failures.
Raising teens has been my biggest parenting challenge to date.
I once heard someone compare raising teens
to being thrown into the deep end of the pool
with only minimal swimming skills and no life raft!

I agree.

I love my kids.
I want the best for them.
I want them to grow up to be happy,
productive, well-adjusted adults who make good choices.

I don't care if they are the smartest,
the most athletic,
or the best looking.

I don't even care if they choose not to go to college.
I just want them to be happy in their chosen paths,
to be a blessing to other people
and to lead lives that they are proud of.

That's it.

The problem is that it doesn't matter what I want for them.
My plans for how I want them to turn out
or the choices I want them to make,
hold no water at all
in the grand scheme of things.
I cannot choose for them.
I can't get inside their heads
and make them see their world 5, 10, 20 years down the road.

I spend so much time worrying that they will make choices now
that will negatively affect the rest of their lives
and because I cannot chain them to me
all day and night,
I'm really powerless to control what choices they make.

And that drives me crazy.

Now when I say powerless,
I don't mean that I haven't put in time on my knees
praying for God's intervention,
or that I haven't taught them right from wrong,
or that I haven't spent countless hours discussing
life choices and the consequences of making the wrong ones,
or that David and I don't administer punishment when needed
or that we turn a blind eye to infractions.

What I am saying is that
no matter what I do....

it is simply not possible to
excercise mind-control
over a teenager.
Believe me, I've tried!
And the mind of a 17 year old?

Well, it's a different planet all it's own.

I'm not sure there is a method of mind-control
that would have any effect on a mind like that anyway.

So, naturally, since David is deployed,
Zach is trying to drive me crazy!

He's always been a strong willed child.
From about 20 months he's been trying to overthrow the throne daily!
That strong will should serve him well in the future
because he's also a child who must take the hard road at every turn.....
he'll be needing that strong will!

I'm assured over and over again by people who have been in my shoes
that Zach will be just fine.

Somedays I'm not so certain.
Other days, I can see that he's making strides
in moving toward adulthood,
and I can see the light.
this child must learn just about everything the hard way.
Including lessons about sneaking out of the house.

A right of passage, you might say,

I mean we all did it right?

Zach has been caught and amply rewarded for his efforts
about a dozen times
but there's never been any danger or law breaking involved...
just his desire to make up his own rules about what happens
after mom and dad go to bed.
He's been grounded for weeks,
had cell phones, computers and game systems taken away.
We've even delayed the joy of him getting his driver's license
until we can be confident
in his ability to make better choices.

Still, he presses on...
testing the waters
trying to overthrow the throne!
Maybe now.

Maybe this time.

Perhaps after what happened,
he will see that this is not all about
fun and silliness
and getting his own way.

There is alot of evil in the world
and it breathed down Zach's neck
and twisted it's ugly fingers around Zach's wrists
on Monday night.

Here is how it happened,
Zach and a friend of his who regularly
spends the night at our house
snuck out
at 2 am
and started walking to our local McDonalds.

I don't know?!!!

Because I said "no",
when he's been caught doing this before
is my best guess.

Zach's explaination.... "we were hungry."

On the way there,
a car full of teens drove past them
and yelled out the window
at Zach and his friend.

Zach just figured that it must have been some kids from school
who knew him
and were just messing around with him.
The car came to a stop a few hundred yards from them
and switched into reverse.
At this point Zach's friend took off running
into the closest neighborhood.

Zach still did not sense danger
and thought that it had to be someone he knew.
It wasn't until 6 guys got out of the SUV
and started running toward him
that he knew he was in trouble.

Zach said that one of them grabbed him from behind and
had his hands pinned behind his back.
They were yelling at him and asking if he had any money
ipods or cell phones.

Zach felt the guy who had his hands pinned,
loosen his grip and try to reach into Zach's jean pocket.
This gave Zach enough leverage
to pull one of his hands loose and clock the guy in front of him
right in the jaw.

Alarmed that Zach had gotten free enough to fight back,
the guy who still had one of Zach's hands
was knocked off balance and Zach was able to wriggle free
and take off running
toward the same neighborhood that his friend had ran into.
A few of the guys started chasing Zach
and the other guys got back in the car and
followed him into the neighborhood.
By this time, Zach's friend had reached a porch
and was knocking on the door screaming for help.
Zach joined him and the car sped off.
The homeowner called 911 and the police came right away.

They later found the car full of kids
whose ages ranged from 16-18.

They were all arrested.

It terrifies me to think of what could have happened.
If there was a gun or knife involved,
if Zach hadn't been able to break free,
if these had been older guys,
we could be facing something entirely different here.
And so,

I would like to think that this is the end of the sneaking out.
I would like to believe that when I lay my head on the pillow at night
that all will be well in my house until morning.

Zach seems freaked out enough now, so I could get a little rest,
but I'm not naive enough to think
that this will be the end of my "take the hard road" kid's antics!

I think that mothers of teenagers have the same
comraderie that pregnant women have.
We can see it in each other eye's just as plain as a big ole baby belly.
We're all scared, unsure, tired, confused
and frustrated.
Unless you are one of those mom's who has compliant easy kids
who never buck the system
and never roll their eyes in disgust at parental rules.

Those kinds of mom's of teens
are like the pregnant women
who only gain 1 pound during their pregnancy,
didn't have to buy maternity clothes until their ninth month
and had a 20 minute labor and delivery.

It happens and yipppee for you if you are so blessed,
but it's not the norm, and this post is not for you.
This post is for the mom's who are in the trenches every day
trying to keep a cool head and a confident appearance.
It's for the moms who get doors slammed in their faces,
who get told they are out of touch,
lack understanding,
are so mean,
going crazy,
are over protective,
or just plain wrong.

It's for the mom's who had big dreams for their kids,
but who have learned to adjust those dreams to match
their kids desires and abilities,
even though yours looked so much better.

It's for the mom's who sincerely believe
at the end of the day that they have done their absolute best
to love their child and to guide
and teach their child in the right way,
but who look at the circumstances around them
and can't believe that any of it could possibly be sinking in.
It's for the mom's who wrestle with so much guilt
over why it's not sinking in.

What is she doing wrong?

What could she do more of?

Less of?

Does anybody know how to fix this?

It's for the mom's who get excited about "C's"
and try to smile when other mom's brag about their kid's straight "A's".
It's for the mom who is struggling with thinking
that their child's lack of "A's"
is somehow
It's for that tear stained mom
who tosses and turns at night because she's worried
about her child.

It's for the mom's who have to do this on their own,
who have either deployed,
or absent
and father's
and too far away family.
It's for the mom's who have learned
or are learning
to let go
and let their babies make mistakes
even big ones
in the hopes that the lessons learned will be valueable tools
to help shape their future.
It's for the mom's who cling to their faith
and the knowlege that God loves her kids
even more
than she does
and that He has a plan for them
that is greater than her plans.

I'm right there with all of you.
Freaking out right along side ya!

Just like that belly bulge we had for nine months
that bonded us as mom's
our stories of triumph and failure,
of success and defeat,
of battles won and lost,
of great enduring love
through less than desireable circumstances
are what bonds us now.

Press on, my sisters!

I'm told the labor is well worth it!


Holly Anderson said...

Becca - I could have written most of this post, my dear. I cry many nights wondering what in the world I've done wrong with Alexx. He just can't seem to get common sense into his head.

I've said so many prayers over this child. I know there is a point where you just have to hand them over to God . . . and I think I may be there.

Just yesterday we had a huge blow-up about him wanting to drive on unsafe, slick, snow-covered roads - take risks with himself and those around him - to go sledding. And I quote him, "I don't care! Just quit talking so I can go!" Oh, Lord, where is his brain?

Those who have the easy kids? The complacent ones, the ones who don't buck the system? THEY DO NOT GET IT.

Laura said...

I feel the need to favorite this entry, or copy it and post it in my journal that I have been writing in more a less for the last 5 years of my life and pin it in there because I know I am going to be looking back on this post when I have children. I will be sharing in the baby belly mother hood, the hours of labour, the moments were you need to keep telling yourself I love my child no matter what they have done. I really hope this is the last time this happens and who knows maybe this will open the eyes of your three other beautiful children. The hard road is a tough road and I may not know Zach that well but getting to know him through you and knowing you, he is going to be okay Becca!.

Now alls I am going to do is this

Carrie said...

As you know, I'm not a mother, but I've pulled the same stunts as Zach and some even more horrible. He'll be OK, he needs to find his way, he will learn and he will make you proud! From my experience, I did everything my parents said I couldn't; they soon realized that instead of saying no, they allowed me to make my own decisions after hearing their concerns. I respected them for allowing me the opportunity to make my own decisions whether they felt it was in my best interest or not. I'm not saying let him do everything - but weigh the pros and cons. You're an amazing mother with so much love. I promise, you will sleep easy again. Look at me - I turned out OK!

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful Zach is OK. I pray he learned his lesson... but, he is the one that must learn everything the hard way.

I wondering about the kid he hit. The last kid Zach hit had a concussion and was out of school for 2 weeks. I hope this kid has life threatening brain damage from Zach's punch. It's at times like these that I know public floggings would still come in handy, or something along the lines of what happened in an old movie called Misery would be helpful. But the best would to put each of them one at a time 5 minutes alone with Zach - they would never walk or talk again.

As scary as this whole thing is, knowing Zach - the other 6 were significantly out manned.

Zach's Dad

TheCatLord said...

i am so glad zach is okay. it was a close call for him and now i hope he knows that your no's were not to become the queen of mean moms, but for his own safety, to prolong his life!
i can't even tell you how many times i wonder how i failed schuyler. but the truth is, no matter what i did he would have still made all of the wrong choices because that is how he is. he won't listen, he just knows what he wants and does it, falling on his face most of the time, every once and a while learning a lesson from his actions. i don't have any answers for you sweetie. just a (((HUG))), and a I LOVE YOU.
we'll all get to the day when we can let go. the process is long and hard. leaning on faith and friends, we'll get there.

Unknown said...

praying for you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Becca, I have walked in your shoes, I won't go into details except to say... Raised in church, A&b honor roll,Then full College football scholarship, drugs, alcohol,Adult life mostly in prison.
The only advice I have is pray, pray.At 39, happily married,a Baby and in church.
There's no guarantee with tomorrow.
May God Bless you and guide you.
Ala Grandmother

Tonkamom said...

Becca, I am so glad he's okay!! I have a 17 year old who thinks rules are silly, and that he is invincible. It's so painful and scary to watch as they venture from child to adult. that middle part is SCARY!!

Mari said...

Oh Becca..I've got 2 teens.

I'm praying right along side of you.
I've got the best compliant 16 year old girl who will graduate with her Associates Degree and WILL succeed and a stubborn naughty 13 year old boy.


Mackey said...

I am in the trenches with you girl. My son is 14. He is a great kid but there are times....oh there are times=) My hubby is a truck driver so he is out of town a lot so it is me, my son & my 7 yr old. daughter.
Thank the Lord your son wasn't badly hurt. My heart stopped when I read that.
Big Mom to another Mom ((((hugs)))).
We will make it through this & believe it or not....we will laugh at these moments in (many ) years. In the meantime....maybe it's time to pull that baby monitor back out so you can hear him late @ night;)

Mama Kautz said...

saw this and thought of you

Tammy K said...

Becca...I am so glad that Zach nor his friend were hurt. Hopefully he has learned a lesson and will not do this again. I have the same worries and fears as you and tears came to my eyes as I read your post. We only want the best for our kids but we can't live for them. So frustrating! I'll keep you all in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Wow...your story made me sad but glad to know that I am not the only one who goes through the anguish of worrying about their child on a daily basis. I will think of you as I stress over all three of my kids...of course each one for a different reason...I know God has each of your children in the palm of his hand! Much Love to you and yours...