Friday, March 25, 2011

i give you these boundaries so that you don't do everything at once.

"Brain scans revealed that the front of the frontal lobe—responsible for impulses and decision-making—was among the very last parts of the brain to mature, which researchers say could explain a lot of irritability and recklessness among teens." Rob Quinn at newser dot com

i've thought a lot about the duke being a teenager. having been a teenager i know what can go on. and what often does. and while i was pretty much a good kid and made it out fairly unscathed i'm certain i wouldn't want my own son to engage in some of the behaviors i did. okay, a lot of them.

BUT this is not something i can fully control. nor do i think i want to. because the duke has to have his own adolescence. period. oh and just because i believe that doesn't mean i have to like it. because i don't. but i didn't raise him all those years the way i did to lose faith in either us now. faith that i can loosen the ties and not yank too hard, or at all if necessary, faith that he'll hold on as tightly or as loosely as he needs to.

so i sat him down and i said 'look. there is a time and place for everything. and while a lot of things look tempting and you can't see a problem with at least trying it, remember to hear my voice in your head. remember to hear me telling you that you can't un-do un-see un-experience a thing. and if you do some things too early, when you are unprepared emotionally or physically, it shapes your view of the world. it shapes you. not to mention dragging danger and illegality into some of it.

the problem here is that as a teenager the processing and decision making part of your brain is not growing along with the rest of you. that means you may not be equipped to properly assess certain situations and their level of risk. because impulse kicks in. that's why there are parents in the world. and that's why you need to listen to me and trust what i am saying. look at the boundaries i give you as an opportunity to learn as you grow, and ease into adult behaviors. try not to see them as roadblocks to fun. plus, if you do everything at once, where's the fun in that? seriously, life is pretty amazing. you don't need to it all and, it's better if you don't.'

then we talked a bit more about the frontal lobe. and why it makes teenagers behave like toddlers. because you can teach toddlers all kinds of things to be aware of/avoid like hot, ouch, pinch, etc. just like with teens, sex, drugs, risky behaviors, etc. you can teach them about these things but if the frontal lobe isn't supporting proper reasoning skills then it's in one ear and out the other. and impulse kicks in and that's that.

'it's like if you were a toddler and i taught you that the stove meant *hot* but you saw a bright shiny apple sitting on it.'

'there might be times i would only see the apple. not the stove.'


but just because you're up against flawed biology it doesn't mean you don't teach them. or talk to them about it. you do. early and often. he needs to know the stove is there. especially when he can't see it.

i stressed, again, that THIS is why he needs to hear my voice. yes, he will learn as he goes, and yes i want to hold space for that. but that he needs to let me parent, too.

i also stressed that i get that many decisions teenagers make are age appropriate, but that that doesn't mean they are *okay.* that it's about safety. and developing personal responsibility. and yes, restraint. not my favorite concept, but it's important. plus, and this is a big plus, we have addiction and mental illness in the family. so that's another layer that makes addressing the concept of safety and personal responsibility and restraint EVEN THOUGH YOU WANT THE APPLE a doubly good thing.

so far the duke is a young teen. he's well socialized (i cannot STAND that word but it's one the masses get) but being homeschooled he certainly hasn't been exposed to large groups of hormones and attitude all wrapped up in bravado and ego and shyness and self consciousness and peer pressure all moving in the same direction all at once.

but he is going to high school next year. and his world is going to drastically change. and THAT'S when it's all going to kick in. there will be context to what i'm telling him. and it will be interesting to see what happens.

i'd be lying if i said i was 100% ready. but i'm a mama, i wasn't ready for any of it to change and it always did anyway. and i changed with it. and here we are at the precipice once again.

at least, thus far, the edge is pretty amusing.

'no offense to anyone in this car (his family) but i'm really looking forward to spending my days away from you at high school next year.'

and the other day i chided the duke for not remembering to put the milk away. again. because this is an issue with him and this time the milk went bad.

'sorry, mama. i think it's that pesky frontal lobe at work.'


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

your moment(s) of zen.

so i was coming back from taking the husband to work and the song on the stereo changed. and a song came on that *instantly* transported me to another time and another place. a girl i used to be.

and just like that i was in el paso, texas. sun baked and dusty, looking right at the mountain that burst into green after it rained. and just like i was in all the towns that i've ever lived in that were so different than the one i'm in now. with the other people i've ever loved who were different than the one i love now. how i've lived a million lives and now i'm living this one. how amazing that is. really.

because when you are in those towns and with those loves you think that's your life. things find their balance, or don't, but they continue on and you go with it. never thinking it would be different than it is right now. that this moment is so defining how could another moment even come close. never imagining how drastically any life can change. and given time and distance, it usually does.

and how here i am at 39 living a very different life than i did at 18 or 24 or even 6 months ago. and i'm here. i made it. and in made it i mean i just lived my life. i am. still standing still breathing and laughing and loving and living my life.

and i swear to you at that stoplight right then in this quickly becoming less alien never imagined i'd ever be here place i looked up and there were billowy and beautiful white clouds drifting across the bluest sky i've seen in so long. and right then the sun burst from the clouds and illuminated it all. everything. and it was like the hand of god or the whisper of the tao or the sturdy knowledge of buddha or the work of fairies or angels or gaia or whatever your spirit or faith or gut tells you to call it because there's a word in every language...right then i was touched by that thing. and right then i got *it.*

this morning i completely understood that my whole life's purpose is to live. that this thing i've been searching for that i know is out there and have come close to finding, that it's just to live the life i have been given. that's it. *it.* to be who i am and that THAT is the thing. that my big calling is to just fucking do it. to be this girl at this moment. to make the life i've been given or made or plunked into or chosen or haven't to make it MINE. to adapt to change to charge forth or hold back, just make it mine. and that is *it.*

it sounds simple but i will tell you what, it's not. because it means a shift in perception. to open the door to the possibility that every single thing i've ever done, the good the bad the ugly the boring the stupid and the on my knees heartbreaking is absolutely the thing that i should have done. that it is absolutely is all about me just being me. the rest is transitory and relative. i can gain and i can lose but i still have to be me. that there isn't some magic bullet of success or progress that i just haven't tapped into yet. my life, right now, is success. and not success 'enough.' just success. all those moments. strung together and pulling me along.

and what's interesting is i think i knew this in some capacity. i've seen glimmers of it. but to fully 100% *know* that i've been doing exactly as i should have been all along is pretty fucking sweet. it's enchanting and delightful and bubbly. and that's the only way i can describe *it.* so thank you hand of god or whisper of the tao or buddha or fairies or angels or gaia or whatever your spirit or faith or gut tells you to call it because there's a word in every language (i even have my own) can reach out and touch me any time you like.

and that's the beauty of music. you can be living your life that eventually balances, or doesn't, but does just becomes the life you feel like you always lived, and then a song comes on and reminds you that it's a series of moments. this moment just being one of them. strung together to make a life. and the song pulls at one part. and it buckles and puckers a bit, and then just like the bluest sky after a whole winter buried in snow you are transported. and reminded.

so it is in this spirit that i bring you this installment of your moment(s) of zen. likely it's not the song to transport you, but i'm guessing after you listen to it you can find the one that does.

so the song ended. the light changed. and then i drove like an asshole all the way home. because if i'm going to live the life i've been given and make it mine and adapt and shift well...that's just how they do it here.


Monday, March 14, 2011


we took the train into the city yesterday.

when we boarded a man and his toddler son in a stroller boarded also and sat across from us. the father unstrapped the boy and settled him next to the window. the boy was excited about the train. looking around and every few minutes asking 'train?' to which his father would reply, 'yeah, we're on the train.'

the boy was wearing thomas the tank engine rubber boots and jeans and a blue zip up fleece. he had the round wide eyed face of a toddler enjoying a very special treat. he looked out the window. he looked at me and i smiled at him. he became shy and burrowed into his father's shoulder. he could have been either one of my boys at any point in their toddler lives. i started to tear up.

i wanted to lean across the aisle and tell the father to enjoy this. right here. this trip. this day. this year. don't take it for granted and wish for another stage, an easier one with no diapers and full vocabulary. day by day train ride by train ride enjoy this. because this goes so fast you don't even know.

but i didn't. i sat with my swelling eyes missing my own toddler boys. having an indulgent melancholy free fall on the green line. a mama with no more little ones wondering how the time went so fast. why didn't i keep better track.

right then i turned and caught wingman's face as he stared out the window. big open smile, wide eyes, captivated fully and 100% by a simple train ride into the city. no longer a toddler, but still every bit my little boy.

and just like that, i was saved.