Train up a child the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
This is the handle I hold on to. Through all the drama and heartache, long nights, and weirdness my kids have put me through I keep telling myself that. Over and over. It’s burned into my mind. I am sure that when I’m 101, and laying in the bed eating baby food, I’ll remember that verse. I’ve written about it before, here, and probably before that as well.
Right now I’m standing on the precipice of adolescence again. #4 will be 11 next month, and he’s excited about approaching his teeanage years. I’m not sure if I am or not. I know it beats the alternative (that is, NOT approaching the teenage years), but I don’t know whether to look at them with excitement, like I did with David (David has been serious fun as a teen, witty and smart, relatively trouble-free) or with deep trepidation. It could go either way.
There was nothing much in Will and CJ’s childhood to indicate that they’d be so damn DIFFICULT as teens. For those of you new here, by difficult I mean situations that involve illegal drugs, disappearances for days at a time, dropping out of school, that sort of thing. I’d gladly trade shouting matches, general pissiness for all that, tho there was plenty of that as well when they weren’t sitting in a holding cell or completely out of touch and dead in a ditch for all I knew. That is a road I really, really don’t want to go down again.
Train up a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.
The beauty of that verse is this bit: when he is old he will not depart from it.
That’s the part I love. It says to me that when he regains his senses, when that frontal lobe kicks in and starts working, and impulsivity starts to take a back seat to responsibility, all that stuff I taught him when he was a child will settle in and make sense. Y’know, stuff like putting a bit of money back in savings, putting the socks in the laundry, eating a vegetable once in a while. Loving and serving God, in whatever capacity he can, cherishing his family…important stuff. That stuff that gets tossed to the curb during the teen years.
For me, the hardest part has been maintaining a sense of optimism that the child will actually *live* through his teen years. They’ve had friends who haven’t. It terrifies and sickens me to imagine the possibility that they won’t. Then when I find out the reckless things they’ve done and I wonder how they could have survived that, I get the willies all over again. A big part of my defense is to refuse to worry about it until after it’s happened. That’s the public face I wear, anyway. Privately my mind goes over possibilities, over and over again. All the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if this then that’. I know that’s not trusting God to do what’s His will, but I want my mind to be prepared for any eventuality, even tho I realize some things a mother is never, ever prepared for.
So now, 3 of my children have made it this far: 22, 20 and 18. Each one of them is settling into adulthood in his own special way and I am able to release them a little bit. I can go for several days without talking to them, and not be terrified of someone finding their buzzard-picked corpse in a dirt-road ditch. I can actually wake up in the middle of the night in a panic that I forgot to put the clothes in the dryer instead of a panic that…well, corpses.
3 down and one to go. I’ve made it through 3 of them. They have threatened to whup #4’s ass if he puts me through the stuff they put me through. That’s reasurring, in it’s own kinda…way, I guess.