letting each other go

Archive for the ‘teenagers’ Category

The Good, The Bad, The Difficult Way to Learn

Posted by Leo G on November 27, 2007

Let’s see. Well, I lived through (okay, I admit it…I actually enjoyed…) our five days in a cabin in Zion National Park with no TV, electricity only by generator, no phone or cell reception, and no internet. Instead of staring at screens we talked and played games and ate a nice Thanksgiving dinner and the kids drew and made houses of cards and we all slept a lot. We tended the fire (our only source of heat.) We played with the puppy. We absorbed the beauty around us and some of us hiked. We saw sunrises and sunsets and admired the full moon. We hung out together. It was good and powerful family time. It refreshed me personally and I feel especially grateful to be reconnected with the kids.

Then we came home to the “real world.” (Wasn’t that peaceful, connected world real too?) My son went to school yesterday to find out that one of his friends died over the weekend. He’d been drinking pretty heavily and fell down a flight of stairs, hit his head, and died of exposure. They’ve arrested a man in his 30’s for child endangerment for giving the kids a LOT of vodka. According to the other boys who were there, the boy who died fell down the stairs while they were there. They took him into the man’s house, where he seemed responsive and okay so they left him on the couch to sleep it off and went home to check in. About six o’clock the next morning, the police found his body at the bottom of the stairs. No one knows exactly what happened in between.

My son sat for several hours with his friend’s father, who was hysterical with grief. He talked to me a little about how hard it was to watch him cry and repeat over and over, “My boy, my boy. Why did they have to take my boy?” I reminded him as gently as I could that it could have been him, with me crying like that. “As much as you want to believe nothing bad will ever happen, it does.” “Yeah,” he said, “he was such a big, tough, kid. It didn’t seem like he could die.”

Parenting is hard. I want to protect him. I want to shake him and wake him up to the danger he’s been flirting with. I want to run away to that cabin and keep him there until he is old enough and wise enough to take care of himself. But mostly, I want to be able to trust him, but he’s just not there yet. He’s getting closer, but he still gives in to his impulses too often and believes the magical messages that he will never get caught, never get hurt, never die.

This is a hard way to learn these lessons.

This weekend he talked about his new practice of talking to God about stuff. He talked about a time he asked God if he should stay with his friends or come home and God told him to come home. Those friends went on to have a car accident that night. Luckily the worst injury was a broken collar bone. Then he admitted that sometimes he thinks that I must be God. Who else could know him so well? Who else would love him enough to want him to always do the right thing?

It made me chuckle and it made me happy that he thinks of me that way. It gave me some hope that he is developing, in his own way, his conscience and his judgment. And then I asked him to imagine that God was someone who knew him even better and loved him even more than I did. I so hope he can.

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Posted in Coping, Downs, gratitude, parenting, teenagers | 3 Comments »