Cameron turned the big 1-3 last month. I can’t believe I am the mother of a teenager. When the topic arises about the rigorous demands of raising 6 (soon to be 7) children, I hear from older, wiser mothers, “If you think it’s bad now, just wait until they’re teenagers”! I begin holding back the tears, because some days are hard enough now!
Last week started out with me getting after my teenager for missing assignments and grades that were unacceptable. I got frustrated at my his lack of organization that I have been trying to teach him all year. I got frustrated because he never writes his assignments down in his planner, then forgets to do them. I got frustrated because he did not take responsibility for his actions and found blame and excuses instead.
I need to remember that he is still learning. And so am I. Things could be worse. I need to appreciate and focus on the good things he is doing and the talents he is developing. He is not perfect. Neither am I. I just want him to listen to me so he can become a capable, responsible, contributing member of society. I need to teach him, give him all the tools he needs and let him learn from his mistakes. My brain is telling me that guidance, love and follow through are the keys to success to raising a teen, but my emotional side flares more often than not and overrides with anger and frustration.
I wanted to dedicate this post to the good attributes and things I have noticed that make me proud of my son:
He has always been good at making friends. When he was little, we would go to the store and he would beg me to buy him 2 Hot Wheels cars; one for him, and one to share with a friend. Whether we went to a park, or McDonalds, he would share one of his new cars and end up with a new friend by the time we had to go. Not only did he make friends quickly, but he made friends in different ethnic groups. The suburbs of Salt Lake City, UT don’t have the most diverse ethnic groups. We have always lived in a high concentration of white, LDS populations. He would bring home Latin, Indian and Korean friends. He had a talent for seeking them out and befriending those kids who didn’t fit into the “mold”. He didn’t care, and neither did I. He is talented in finding something in common with everyone, which is a great life skill.
If I am not home when he gets home from school, he calls me to see where I am, even though when I am home most days, he ignores me.
He is a great Boy Scout and is on track and motivated to earn his Eagle by the time he is 15, or sooner (which is great before he is distracted with driving, dating and girls)!
I signed him up for a Lego Robotics class that he has wanted to join. There have been waiting lists as long as 23 people long to get into this class. I finally got him registered, but the weeklong workshop was scheduled the same time as Trek. I gave him the choice to proceed with the class, or go on Trek, and he chose to go on Trek. Trek is a simulation of the Pioneers’ journey to Utah. For 3 days, the teens get to experience the challenges of living as a pioneer. I never got to go as a youth of the LDS church, but it is a very spiritual experience and the kids come back with stronger testimonies and a new perspective. I was surprised that he made the decision to go, and proud that he did.
At the beginning of 7th grade, Cameron tested high enough to skip to the 8th Grade Advanced Math class. He could have chosen to stay in 7th grade math, which would have made life a lot easier, but instead rose to the challenge of the harder math class. It ended up being a little beyond his abilities. He struggled through 3 quarters of the class until he just couldn’t keep up anymore. He was frustrated with his decision and wanted to give up after the 1st quarter, but he kept studying, staying after school and trying to complete a class that I found out towards the end of the school year, he barely tested into. Although I bumped him back to 7th grade math to finish the year, I am proud of him for going out of his comfort zone to try something challenging.
He sets his own alarm, gets himself up and out the door to catch the bus at 7:45 a.m. I still set my alarm to make sure he is up. There have been 2 incidents this year where I didn’t set my alarm and neither did he. Oops!
His 6th grade teacher sent me an email telling me how much he appreciated having Cameron in his class. Although he wasn’t the smartest student, his teacher appreciated him and wants to follow him to see where he ends up in life.
Another previous teacher assigned him to welcome the new students and show them around the classroom and school.
I definitely see some great spiritual, intellectual and people skills developing in this fine young man.
I’ve already fought a few battles, which I am trying to choose carefully. My “teenager” has begged me for air soft guns, and for an account on X Box Live (both which I said, “no” to) and I have Skyward on my “frequently visited websites” next to Pinterest, to make sure he is completing and turning in all his assignments at school.
I am saddened by the downhill countdown that keeps creeping up on me faster and faster until my son becomes an adult. It seemed like yesterday he was getting baptized. That was 5 years ago. My how time flies! In less than 2 years he will have his driving permit. In less than 3 years he will be dating and driving by himself (I’m actually looking forward to him helping me shuttle kids around), and in less than 5 years, he will be graduating from high school and leaving our nest to go on an LDS mission. I have a lot of work to do before I send him out on his own. Will he be able to manage money and time? Will he be able to cook simple meals, clean and know how to launder his own clothes? Will he be responsible?
When I take a step back, I am proud of all my kids and the people they are becoming. As mothers we definitely have to look for and “find joy in the journey”.