Tuesday, February 19, 2013

teach your children well and let the rest go.

recently wingman made a decision that disappointed the husband and me. mainly because it was our own goals and ideas for him that seemed to be tossed aside. he was fine and more than happy with his decision, relieved. we were not. so much.

the thing is, wingman is naturally good at a LOT of things. way more than me, way more than anyone in this house. he has a beautiful singing voice, he's a talented artist, he's got a gift for the piano, he's a really good baseball player. he is smart. i mean, i'm not even bragging. oh he's not a prodigy or some kind of artistic genius, he's just good at a lot. and yet, well...he doesn't want to pursue *any* of it. not with classes or lessons or teams.

and frankly, at 12, he's past the age where i can *make* him. not that i forced him before, but there was a natural progression of music lessons and art lessons and baseball as part of home school curriculum and just participating in something outside of the house.

the reason why i was disappointed really boiled down to convenience. this is something he just always did. was good at. was a natural built in out of the house experience. a chance to mix with peers. etc. etc. etc. and having moved to a new place where there isn't a lot going on for home schooled kids his age (we should have moved to where the 'real' hippies live. wealthy 'hippies' don't home school.) this was going to be a no brainer for me. his mama. looking for anything to supplement our home schooling and glad for this.

only, wingman doesn't want to do it. he's over it. he's done.

and much to my chagrin, i had to accept that.

i spent two days being very disappointed even as he was smiling and relieved.

and besides the built in convenience of this out of the house activity DASHED, i couldn't quite figure out why it peeved me so much. this decision of his.

and then i figured it out.


i had this real fear that my sweet talented intelligent boy wasn't going to do...anything. with his life. that he lacked the motivation to pursue his interests and talents. that he lacked drive. ambition. and let's face it, that he would end up living in someones basement (probably ours) with marginal employment and not enough sun. and be perfectly happy doing so.


mine. because he's home schooled i have no one to blame these things on as they get older. i mean i don't generally look at things to place fault, but let's face it...if my home schooled kid ends up living in a basement with not enough sun and hobbies that involve only the computer then i'm screwed in the reputation department. (wouldn't be the first time. but still.)

i fretted and worried. every walk i took with the husband was a verbal tirade of how i must have failed him! why doesn't he want to do *anything*? he's so talented, the little snot! blah blah blah.

we were walking home from the library and i turned to the husband and screeched

"what if he ends up like one of those guys! you know the type. they live in a basement. they barely have a job. they come to family gatherings, hang out awhile, and that's like their ONLY source of social interaction. i just know he'll live in that basement with a bunch of dogs and his video games and BE COMPLETELY HAPPY! WHAT IF THAT HAPPENS!?!"

and then i heard a little voice.

'what. if.'

i didn't hear it on that walk or even that day. i heard it later. just...'what if.'

i have always said the only thing i truly want for my children is that they be happy. i don't mean 'happy' like OH MY GOD LOOK AT THAT RAINBOW I'M SO HAPPY! because i get that that can be it's own 'thing.' unattainable to some. unreliable. i myself cannot claim the title of happy. what a loaded word. i am content, though. i love my life. so i guess i just mean happy as in content. pleased. living a life that gives them peace and joy. a life they like. all those things that blend to make up this word 'happy'. even though there's got to be a better less loaded word for that feeling.

that's all i've wanted for them. so...what if. what if wingman doesn't do a thing with all that he is gifted with. what if he doesn't want to pursue higher education or higher study (which really is an option in this house, but an option the boys know is a good one for their future.) what if he's content to work a job and just be in the world. come to family gatherings and just be. what if he isn't the kid with the long list of accomplishments i can pull out and pass around when i'm feeling vulnerable in a social situation.

what if he goes on to have a life that DOES NOT cause people to say 'you must be so proud' and mistakenly credit me with all that he's become. because he's my son. because i home schooled him.

not that i'm that mama, but we all have that deep inside. that thing about our kids. 

what if.

what if he's just wingman.

and i realized oh my god. of course. of course this would be okay. because wingman is sweet and funny and charming and snarky. he's a joy to be around and likes to cook. he's compassionate and kind to animals. he feels the injustice of the world on such a personal level. and he is incorruptible. UN-bribable (i know. i've tried.) he's truly his own person on such a level that i don't comprehend it.

so he's living in a basement with a bunch of dogs. and completely happy doing so. my point, exactly? i'm worried about...what, exactly?


plus. he's 12. he's not done. what he is today, eschewing all that is possible for him in pursuing his gifts and talents in favor of just kicking about, is what he is today. it's not what he will always be. it's easy to look at our kids and see their whole entire lives. OH MY GOD i can see the basement! i can smell the dogs! when really it's just one day...a week...a month...it's just a bit of time. this time. right now.

i would do well to remember all of this. that i have been and am teaching him well. that has to count for something. and that my idea or his father's idea or the world's idea of 'success' is ridiculous when applied to an individual person.

it's so easy to tell our growing children what they should do. and how what they are choosing not to do will negatively impact them. to give them all the WHYS without exploring all of the what ifs.

when wingman got to make that decision, all on his own, he knew it was a disappointment. he knew we wanted him to do it. he knew we left it up to him. and he made the decision. and was finally relieved for the first time in days.

as parents our job eventually becomes that of supporter rather than scheduler and herder. our job that was so hands on before requires now more than a bit of sitting on those same hands. our job of verbalizing the musts and redirecting the 'bad' decisions gives way to learning how to slowly close the mouth when it flies open, and instead quickly open the ears. and the heart. and THE FAITH. the skills we had for babies and toddlers and kids are different than those we must hone as parents of adolescents and teenagers and young adults.

do i like this? no. will i do it? yes. will wingman end up in that basement? maybe. will that be okay?


will i still worry? OH HELL YEAH.  i will worry about him for all my life. because he's my baby. and that's okay. but i'm going to worry with faith. and the knowledge that he got a great start and will be able to figure the rest out as he goes. and that eventually, one day, wither he goeth, i will not go.

and that's the hardest part. and the most necessary.



Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe said...

So wise. I feel this *so* much, especially as a homeschooling mom with a brilliant , talented husband working at a dead end drudge job. I struggle with this letting go and with the feeling of responsibility every day.

Polly Mahoney said...

Sit on the hands, close the mouth, open the ears and heart. That's going on a sticky note above my sink! Thanks x for your beautiful insight and expression. Polly

x. said...

POLLY!!!!! so nice to hear from you!!! x.