Sunday, November 8, 2015

I think telling my boys about my growing up years has to come on an as needed basis

And it happened just like that.  

Kid 1 actually had a conversation with me... not once, but more than once which in mathematical terms equals an infinity of mom love for him this week and forever.  AND we went out to eat together, just Kid 1 and me, and talked. 

Now granted, it was an invitation to our favorite pizza place, and brothers were supposed to come along as well, but they had better opportunities arise than having early evening pizza with their mother. 

And on other days this week I heard about school, and football, and jazz band and of course, the usual, We have no good food in this house.  And the ever popular, I can't find any socks.  

And it gets better.... further discussion this week with another kid - who shall remain numberless this time around - was about girls.  And you know I totally jumped at the opportunity to give my opinion on the perfect girl for him.  Or for any young man, so feel free to pass this along....   A young lady should be, first of all, a lady.  She should have respect for others, but just as much so, respect for herself.  She radiates kindness, using kind words and gestures that reflect gentleness  and caring.  She is polite, well mannered, courteous and thoughtful of others.  And she's a good friend and fun to be aroundAnd, boys, being pretty is a definite plus, but pretty is as pretty does.  You may quote me.   

All that was discussed on the drive home from TARGET, which just proves that parents seriously have to take every opportunity and run with it. Especially when they're seat-belted in your car and can't get away.

But I loved this week.  I love that the boys were all pleased with their classes and only one kid missed the bus.  But the most interesting part of the week for me, a very thoughtful part, actually, was one I didn't really plan on.  But who does when it comes to deep thoughts and reflection?  Definitely not me.

As Kid 1 and I visited over dinner last night, he asked me how my high school years were.  Particularly my freshman year.  But I ended up giving him a short tour of the highs and lows of that time for me.

So here's the answer I would like Kid 1 to know about my high school days...

First, I would tell them that this is NOT a glamour shot photo.  Never had one.  This was one of my senior pictures for the yearbook, the one in which I got to keep my shirt on.... because you know how yearbook photographers always make the girls wrap themselves in some sort of cape to expose the shoulder region in an attempt at I don't know what?  I actually think it's all a big high school yearbook photographer inside joke.  And all the girls just fall for it year after year so we continue to pass on the tradition of wearing nothing but faux velvet and a smile.  And this was, after all, the 80's and we had a certain affinity for eye makeup and lots of hair gel. (So boys, as you read this one day, this was me, just waiting to one day become your mom.  But more importantly, if I ever ask to borrow your hair gel, just say no.)

I think more than anything, I would tell my kids that I loved school.  I loved my friends and my teachers and my very first job.  The job that led me to my lifetime love of fitness and the job I still do and love today.  Only now I skip the leotards, leg warmers, and suntan tights. 

I had lots of good teachers, but one that stood out to me in a very unique way. He had us write a personal journal every day.  It could be about anything and everything.  I recently found that journal in a box in the closet.  And while reading through it, Lord help me, I was blushing full of embarrassment at the idea of ever being that young and stupid.  Then I ripped out the most embarrassing parts and put them in the paper shredder.  But what I saw in there was that my teacher commented on everything I wrote -  every entry, every day.... with amazing gentleness of word and spirit, filling for me a need that he probably never realized back then.

And I worked.  A lot.  As much and as often as I could.  I started working at a local gym when I was about 16, and for my last couple of years of high school I worked every afternoon and night after school till the gym closed.  I went to work straight from school, fed myself at the cafeteria next door to the gym, and got home crazy late just to sleep and get up and do it again the next day.  

Weekends were full days of work, church, friends and boyfriend the rest of the time.  And on occasion, when all else failed and I had nowhere else to go, a couch of someone with an understanding parent, long enough to get me back to school the next Monday and start the cycle all over again. 

Because home for me was a place that didn't feel like a home way too much of the time.  It was a place that I went to as needed but had to put on a mental suit of armor for the hours I was there.  It was a place that I never knew what to expect.  So school for me was really the best place I could think to be.  I am so lucky to be able to say that about my high school days.   

So I think I was pretty independent for a teen.  And self sufficient.  And I could stretch a dollar till it screamed.  And y'all, I always found the cutest purses on clearance at the mall close to work, so I looked both smart, assured, and well accessorized.  But really I knew that staying away, and making my own way, was the only chance I was ever going have to make it out of my house pre-nervous breakdown.

But back in the day, I found that God was a great provider of people who held me up when I couldn't do it on my own.  Teachers, friends  - that came and went as I needed usually, like on-call angel messengers, I like to think. 

And what I think now is that back then, I had no idea how to pray.  How to really pray.  Do you?  Maybe we can talk about the parts of prayer someday here.  Did you even know there's sort of a prayer formula?  Much like sentence diagramming in middle school english class, but a lot sweeter and closer to God's heart than nouns and verbs.  

For me in high school, church was a place I went because it was something I had always done.  It was fun, I had friends there, and my future husband was there - one of life's biggest surprises.  Thanks be to God for my tendency toward obsessive compulsiveness that keeps me bound to routines and habits - some of which have turned out to be blessings bigger than I can count.

But what I really really really didn't know then, and couldn't even begin to understand at that age, was that every tear I cried and the exhaustion that a teenage girl can feel from running away from her day to day, and never taking time to be still in the peace of His understanding?.... was seen and heard, and collected in God's loving hand.  And held there till the time that I was able to finally see past the hurt and make out glimpses of a future.  I think I had no idea at the time, that my teachers, friends and my job were my saving graces against feeling hopeless.  

And looking back from this age and stage of life, I think that telling my boys about my growing up years has to come on an as needed basis.  So for the How were your high school years question? I would say they were some of my greatest times of growth and understanding, for me and of me.  I would also tell them that it's funny how things can change, sometimes in an instant, sometimes so slowly that we hardly even notice till someone asks us over a dinner of pizza and good conversation.

post script.... this post was started closer to the beginning of this school year.  So here's what's been happening in these short months...

The idea of young love got put on pause for a bit.  Kid 3 has lost two uniform shirts, one pair of glasses and several school ID badges.  And a couple of my sweeties would like to know if you can maybe tutor them in math because mom and dad lose every ounce of patience trying to do it.  And Kid 1, my inspiration for this post,  loved his first high school football season, he told me very last minute that he needs black pants for jazz band, and he hated the frozen pizza I cooked last night.  It's turning out to be a good year.    

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