It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? To watch your children grow into individuals. Don’t get me wrong, they always have been individuals, but to really be at a place where you have to give them the room and space to be just that. For so long it’s been what we as their parents think is best for them and it’s been us teaching them and showing them every step of the way. And while it still is, we are entering this new territory. This territory of having to let go a little bit. To step back and watch and see if what we have been teaching all of these years is going to start to stick. We have to get OK with allowing them to make their own decisions and problem solve and figure things out.
Tanner turned twelve this past summer. At the end of the last school year he applied and was chosen to be a member of the National Junior Honor Society. He is involved with our church in the Young Men’s and Scout program, he helps out at home between chores and babysitting, he recently made the 7th/8th grade football team and also decided that he still wanted to do cross country again this year. Which happens to run the same time as football season. He attends cross country practice twice a week before school with meets on Saturdays, he has football practice four days a week after school until 5:00 PM with one game each week, he has his Young Men’s group on Wednesday evenings following football practice and he eventually will have events and service projects to participate in for NJHS. Not to mention, homework and studying to maintain a 3.6 GPA or higher to stay in good standing for NJHS and sports.
To say that he is busy would be an understatement. He went from having a pretty empty schedule between last year and this summer to all of this. And as we began this school year I have made sure to quietly voice my opinion and offer him space to say no to a few things. For instance, not participating in cross country this year now that he is of age to try out for other sports at his school. However, when he found out that football games do not conflict with cross country, he was adamant about doing both. After turning down the offer to say no to a few things, I knew that my role was to fully support. He had set his mind to doing it and participating in all of these things so it is now my job to place myself right behind him. Right behind him with my arms full of freshly washed uniforms, signed participation contracts, calendar updates with all events, meetings and practices, blocked out study time, packed snacks and meals to toss his way as he heads out the door, a fresh towel thrown his direction as he jumps out of the shower, plenty of patience and ridiculous amounts of admiration for this young man.
While I know all too well how it feels to fill your plate too full, I also know that my job as a parent is becoming more and more about rooting them on rather then controlling. When they are little and don’t know any better, it’s easy to grab the reins and steer the course. That’s our job. That’s what they need from us as parents. Now, at least with my older cubs, I am learning to loosen up the reins and slide over to the passenger seat more and more. I’m learning to stay a little more quiet and simply keep a prayer in my heart that I am raising them right. That when they walk out the door they remember who they are and what they stand for. That when all the things become far too much they know that they have me to lean on, to breathe deep with them, and that I will always continue to root them on.
After all, watching these kids do life in the most over achieving way makes my heart skip beats. It’s everything and more. And so are they.