It was to be a meeting of the minds. The youngest earned his drivers license and was itching for more freedom. He sees our use of Find My Friends as a statement of non-trust. We decided to negotiate.
Raising toddlers involves physical endurance ~ sleepless nights for both child and parent, temper tantrums that call for jumbo vats of patience, battles over clothes, toys, pottying, everything. With toddlers, I was physically drained most nights.
Raising teens is easier on the body but it’s mentally trying. Think of taking an all-day standardized test. It’s a battle of wits and mental agility and these kids, despite spending eight hours in school each day, are still fresh at 8 pm when I’m starting the downward spiral to sleepy time.
This particular kid has me beat just about every time. He is sharp. Razor sharp. He is quick witted. When he’s “on” and entertaining we become puddles of laughter. Like a Seinfeld episode he circles back around to the earlier comments, connecting disparate topics. He pulls from history as easily as current events. (“She’s like France; she can’t win.”), sports, gaming (“The Hoco theme should be FortKnight.”), literature (“That book was hippie crap.”) and even the Bible (“Mom, you are bearing false witness!”).
He sings Spanish pop songs and employs a variety of accents. The amount of trivia stored in that kid’s head is enviable and he has full access to it any time he desires. His memory is prodigious (see The Bet We Lost) and his recall is fast. I have learned that I should not engage in anything important unless I am fresh. Even if I rehearse my argument, there’s no way to predict his response. He is the funniest person I know as well as a formidable adversary. Engaging with him demands mental acumen and a whole lot of Holy Spirit.
My husband and I decided to jump in. We were confident the outcome would be favorable; after all we’d decided that as a show of trust, we would stop using Find My Friends. He’d earned it. We had some stipulations but they weren’t unreasonable. We felt good. We patted each other on the back. It would be a big deposit in the kid karma bank which lately was running a little low.
Never, never underestimate a teenager. While our mental energy is consumed by bills, house projects, cars to be repaired, and fixing dinner, theirs is blissfully not. They have gigabytes available at all times.
We discussed that he has to trust us as we trust him. We tried to explain why we need to know where he is, who he’s with, and what his plans are. His face held no expression. I realized that kids are convinced that when we place these requirements on them, we are trying to stifle their fun. I explained that we want him to have fun but also want him to be safe. Eyes rolled.
I was outmatched and in danger of falling into a mental pit where I would flail uselessly when the Holy Spirit arrived like the cavalry. It came to me. I told him that we’ve known him longer than he’s known us. Go, go, Holy Spirit! I have my argument!
“You’ve got about ten years of memories of me, but I’ve got 16 years of memories of you. I remember being pregnant with you. I lay on the couch for 4 weeks of bed rest so you could be safe and healthy. I remember you as a baby, rocking you, feeding you, caring for you, snuggling you. I remember that little boy who drew pictures of me and him. I remember being with you in the hospital when you were sick and playing car track with you. I remember your proclamation that you will never eat chicken again as well as your desire to skip kindergarten and go straight to first grade. You don’t remember these things, but I do. We really knew that kid who has grown into the teen you are now. We don’t expect you to get it, but one day when you have your own children, you will understand this crazy love we have for you. Now, we need you to believe it. Dad and I would give our lives for you. We would sacrifice body parts. We love you so deeply that sometimes it scares us. ”
I remember these things and sometimes I miss that little boy. Like Mary, I hold these memories in my heart and when I feel strong I pull them out and smile.
His face still held no expression but later we noticed that he was happy. He goofed around and regaled us with silliness at dinner. Sometimes I think it really is that simple: They just need to know how much we love them.
Copyright 2018 Merridith Frediani