Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Parenting when they're almost grown

I don't know if it's just my kids, but in my limited sample, being a senior in high school seems to cause brain damage.

First Braeden and now Emma: at once completely capable, responsible, pleasant, aggravating, stressed and irresponsible.  It seems to be a year punctuated by unexplained tardies at school adding up and procrastination and working hard and being helpful and declining money when I offer it to them.  "No, I got this.  I don't need money."

I can only compare it to toddlers at a park.  They run away gleefully, independent and adventurous and then hurry back to their mother's side.

Autonomy can be an exhilarating but ultimately scary thing.

When Emma isn't freaking out about all the things (college applications, too much work to do, friend drama, school and social obligations) she is being perfectly enjoyable.  With our menfolk camping last weekend we went to dinner together and took a walk together and just checked in with each other several times throughout the days while we worked separately.  She and I are highly compatible.  We are two introverts, doing our thing, talking occasionally but with a look we can see when the other one needs space.

Yesterday Braeden had someone text me and ask if I would send him an absentee ballot.  He included a picture:

It's a look of silent pleading.  "Please, Mom.  I need to vote."

And of course the answer is yes, I'll figure it out.  I want that cute boy to vote too.  He also asked me to research candidates for him and tell him who I was voting for and why.  (Why is the important thing for Braeden.)  He may or may not follow my advice.  I know that.

So I sat down to research.  I already had opinions on some of the candidates but had to do some reading as I went down the ballot.  When it came to the school board candidates, I asked Emma's opinion.  And she had a strong one.  She went to a debate between the two candidates last week.  She helped as part of her AP government class.

I listened to her explain to me why one candidate was superior to the other.

I have always known I have a smart girl but I sort of marveled that she was dispensing her wisdom to me because she's more knowledgeable and experienced in this area.

Times they are a changing.

Sometimes I celebrate their independence.  I lean on them to take care of things.  I expect and value their autonomy.  Then, like the toddler at the playground, I want to run back together.  I want to take care of everything.  I want to fix the fixable and banish the unfixable.  I want to gather them in my lap and rock them to sleep.

That is particularly problematic with Braeden since he's man-sized and lives in Virginia.



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