Saturday, April 26, 2014
21 Years as a Guide is Plenty
“I have a son that is twenty-one.”
Eight words that I have never said in one sentence until recently. It didn’t sting. (Most likely because he is awesome...smiling BIG.) Kids are a Work-In-Progress…from the time that we find out that we are pregnant and begin eating healthier to prepare them for a sustainable life, we concentrate on keeping them well until the day that we die.
My sister once told me that children are like precious stones. At first they have lots of rough edges but with beauty...lots of beauty hidden within. With lots and lots of our polishing and elbow grease, they will eventually shine and glisten and be beautiful inside and out, especially when put into the light. It’s the same sister that became very frustrated and sad when her daughter didn't want to see her dating after her divorce. She was an adolescent and wanted/needed to have her mom available to her. Not off gallivanting with another person foreign to her. So then it was my turn to give her the advice.
“You know how you have to remind your daughter to brush her teeth Every. Single. Morning. And Every. Single. Night? Even though she knows she’s supposed to and she can’t leave the house without doing it?" (Think about it. How many times do you think you’ve said, “Go brush your teeth,” as a parent?)
Now, rinse and repeat this a hundred times, too, if you have to: “Gina. (Not her real name…she’ll be reading this post. Teehee.) I'm a mother first. And I'm a woman. And a woman deserves a companion in her life. It will be a slow process but eventually we will have another person in our life. Because I want that.”
It’s a lot more serious than brushing teeth, but the message has to be relayed a few hundred times in order to move forward. For everyone. For all lessons.
The good news? We have 21 years to keep rinsing and repeating. On any lesson. There is no need to rush lessons. Besides, they won’t learn in a rush. They will learn like the tortoise. Slow and steady.
What is important is that we as parents keep planting the seeds. The seeds that they spit back out at us. The seeds that they don’t want to swallow. The ones that have too hard of a shell for them to digest just yet. The seeds that sit there dormant. Until they remember them again. Until they NEED them.
And if we have forgotten to plant them, they won’t ever have them to dig up and fertilize and grow all on their own. We can’t rush a rose or a gemstone. And we can’t try to rush them into adulthood.
Another idea to not rush them into. So many of us think of 21 (or 18) as the "drinking age." And if we think of it as the “drinking age,” guess what? So do our kids. There are religions that have rites of passage to adulthood.
Religion seems to have become unpopular but we still need to keep an adult rite of passage alive.
When there is a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah (a Jewish boy or girl, respectively, turning 13 and 12), one of the reasons for celebrating is their coming-of-age. They are now responsible for their own actions. They should now think, act and practice responsibly. This is something that they work towards their whole life. It’s not just a party! It’s what children need in order to become productive human beings and positive contributors to our society. We can’t make the age of 18 about, “THEN and only then can you get a tattoo!” or “Then you can do whatever you want. Right now you’re under MY roof!”
We need to build them towards 18 (or 13 or 16 or 21) as a responsibility. “You will join the world in helping it become a better place!” “You will be ready to join the work force and find your passions!” “You one day will find the love of your life and have beautiful children and make me a grandmother!”
The United States borders Mexico. Mexico’s drinking age is 18. We have many teenagers who cross over the border just so that they can drink freely and without worry. I remember a story years back where the U.S. was very upset with the effects of a lower drinking age and we felt that Mexican authorities should raise theirs in order to prevent the drinking, driving and accidents occurring when these children would drive back home across the border. Mexico’s response?
Our children don’t go out and party and drink until they are drunk the day that they become of drinking age. You need to talk to your kids about the responsibilities of drinking. Our drinking age isn't the problem!
We can’t make drinking a “rite of passage” to adulthood. Because then our children will. It shouldn't even be a part of the equation. I’m not even close to saying they shouldn't be drinking. I like my wine! And my son knows it. (smile) But he also knows that his mom has so many other priorities. And that’s how he knows me and how he’s come to know himself. He follows his heart, by God. And I LOVE that. 21 years in the making, but I’ll be honest, he was super special at any age. And THAT’S what our kids need to know the most.
~Katherine A. Rayne~ Live your life and love it.
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