What have I been doing exactly that has kept me so busy? Well, to be very honest with you, attending to my teenagers. Teens are a very volatile group. They are wonderful and they are amazing, but if you really want to be a part of their lives, you have to 'strike when the iron is hot,' meaning you have to speak to them in real time, when they are in the moment and when they need the information. If you are waiting for the right time to talk to them, you will miss the moment.
Here is a 'for instance' (not this week's issues):
One of my children was struggling with doing what I asked, when I asked. I was getting very frustrated with him. I needed his help and his unwillingness to do what asked when I needed it was hindering my abilities to function in the household and take care of the other children. I tried for a long time to figure out what I could do or say to help him understand how significantly I needed his help. After a little while of pondering, I had this thought, "Doesn't he count on you to do things for him? What if you didn't do those things right away."
Hmmmm.....what if I didn't? What would that look like?
This particular child at this time in his life needed me to take him to all of his activities. He is a very social child. The next mutual activity was at the park. When the time came to drive him where he needed to go, I told him to go and get in the car. I would be right there. While he was waiting for me, I changed the baby's diaper and started the dishes.
He came back in the house. "Mom! What are you doing??!"
"But I have to leave!!"
"Oh sorry. Go and get the baby in the car and I'll be right out." He took the baby. Then I found something else to do inside. He came in again.
"Mom! We have to leave!"
"OK." I went to the car. Turned it on. Then decided I needed a bottle for the baby and went back into the house.
"You've got to be kidding!" he said.
As we drove away, I decided the car was low on gas and made a quick trip to the gas station. The activity time is just ticking away.....tick, tick, tick........
After gas, I remembered that I wanted to run another errand. I left him in the car with the baby while I went into the store for a little shopping. By the time I returned to the car he was furious!
"Mom! The activity started 30 minutes ago!"
"Oh! Really?? I'm sorry. Would you like me to take you there now?"
By this time, the ride in the car was silent. I think the baby had fallen asleep. As we drove to the park, I started the conversation.
"So you must be really, really frustrated at me if your activity started 30 minutes ago. We've been in the car for almost 45 minutes now." Silence.
"Well, I have been doing some thinking. I realized the other day that there are so many things recently that I have asked you to help with. You say you will do what I ask, but then you don't. Son, those things are causing problems in our family. I rely on you a lot to help. Part of being in a family is all learning to work together and do our part to help everyone out, especially your mother. Then I realized that there are things you count on me to do for you as well. I have been doing them. Today I decided maybe I should help you as much as you have been helping me." Silence.
As we arrived, I said, "I hope you are not too upset. But I also hope that you will make a greater effort to do the things I ask, when I need them done."
He slammed the car door as he left. But I didn't have any more issues with him not assisting when I asked.
This week, I have been seizing the moment with one of my teens. He has needed me, even though he didn't think that is what he wanted or needed. It has been a rough couple of days, but I think we are again headed in the right direction. Having two days off of school and spending time as a family probably won't hurt anything either.
There is nothing more important in the entire world happening right now than the decisions this particular teen was making in his life. They were decisions that will affect eternity, so they needed my undivided attention. You need to do that with teens. If you wait too long, the moment will pass, decisions that cannot be undone will be made. If you are not paying attention, you may even miss that those kinds of decisions are being made. Part of my personal prayers are to know that those kinds of things are happening in the lives of my children. I don't want to miss being able to weigh in on those decisions. (My heart and prayers also go out to all of those families who are still waiting for word of their loved ones on MH370! We are praying for you all!)
Have a great March Madness weekend! My bracket is already looking sad..... :-)