Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I've discovered yet another missing page in the parenting manual.

My eighteen-year-old graduated.
Not in the traditional way, with "Pomp and Circumstance"
and caps and gowns and pictures and parties. 
Instead, he went to summer school.
Then we met in the principal's office.
And he graduated.
Not pretty.
But he finished.

And now?
Well, he is just kind of on hold.
You see, last October,
he made one of those stupid
teenager mistakes.
That all of us pray our kids won't make.

But he did.

And we have been dealing
with the legal ramifications
for ten looong months.
We go back to court on Thursday.
For the umpteenth time.
And the issue might be resolved.
Except it was supposed to be resolved
in late March
and it's still going on.
So much for a speedy trial.

He could get probation.
He could have to take classes.
In which case he would need to stay here
for the next six months or a year.
He could get deferred probation.
Or credit for time already served.
In which case he could possibly go to college.
Or maybe the military.

In the mean time,
we are stuck in what feels
kind of like the outer circles of Dante's inferno.

He finished school in late June.
I suggested, as I have been for quite a while,
that it might be wise to get a job
so he would have money
to help pay his expenses
and for an occasional movie
or pair of shoes.
He could always quit
after the court stuff is resolved.

He hasn't done that.
He hasn't done much of anything, actually.

And so he hangs out
Waiting for court on Thursday.
Working out with a quarterback coach
tossing a ball
Watching his friends
who are preparing
to head off to college.
Making messes in the kitchen.
Fighting with me
about money
that I am not willing to give him
because I think he should get a job.

He still dreams of playing college football.
He's definitely good enough. 
Might go to a school in Arizona
because the QB coach
knows someone down there.

In case that doesn't work out
he has applied for schools in Denver
He might go to Metro for the first year.
And if that doesn't work out
he might go to a community college
just to get his grades up
and then head out in January.

He talks about being a senator
or a brain surgeon
or a lawyer
or maybe a music producer. 
He has talked about joining the Air Force
or maybe the Navy.
He doesn't really have any idea
what he wants.

And me?
Mostly I just try to stay out of his way
because I am the person
he is convinced is responsible
for all of his woes
and because if I am not around
he can't ask for money.
I am trying
to keep my mouth closed
unless he asks for my opinion
to be tough enough
that he will want to leave the nest
and move toward adulthood
but gentle enough
that he will know he can come back
for visits anyway.

I thumb through the parenting manual.
I can find the chapter about helping your kid pack for college.
I can find the chapter about what to do
when your kid's dreams don't match yours.

But this chapter?

It's missing from my parenting manual.


Tara said...

There is so much love and compassion for your son in this post, Carol. Ultimately, they don't come with individual manuals and they have to figure out how they work for themselves. We can love them, teach them, share the burden of life to some extent with them. But that's about it. We are in a similar situation with our son - he has had significant psychological issues and it is a slow process getting him well, getting him "back on track" again. There is no guide book for how to help him, and this was not a part of what I had envisioned in raising him. But, there you go. I love him, and we will take this one day at a time. This too shall pass. The main thing I see for both our boys - they have dreams, they have a sense of a future. That, in itself, is hopeful. Is cause for happiness.

elsie said...

That manual is missing so many pages. I think you are living those pages. It is so hard to step back and let our kids learn the way of the world. Hang in there Carol, I know there is a divine plan. We must be patient to let it unfold.

Leigh Anne Eck said...

Now I see why you wanted to copy my slice about worrying and hang it on your mirror. My prayers are with you and your son as you work this out. I do believe there is hope and that he will see that you love him and this is why you do the things you do....tough love! Hang in there.

Nanc said...

I many things are not in that manual. So much for planning for a speedy trial. I feel your pain, that limbo land. That job thing, errr, it is so frustrating too. Every person that reads your post will relate at some level. I love that you are honest. I am reading a very good book and I think you would love it...Ann Voscamp's One Thousand Gifts. xo

Beth Scanlon said...

Hang in there! Each journey is different. Love howmyounhave shaped your story into a poem.

writekimwrite said...

There is One who loves your son more than you and it is in His care you can trust, seek refuge and find rest. Though it might not seem like it, you are not alone! I continue to stand with you in prayer.

writekimwrite said...
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Jone said...

/dang those parenting manuals! I am missing the pages about dealing with grown children. But I so hear your voice and love for your son. Hang in there.

Beverley Baird said...

Even with those pages we all work through the struggles, step by step. You are in such a difficult place. My heart and prayers go out to you and your son. May the resolution come on Thursday that will move him forward in a positive way.

Ramona said...

What a challenging time for the two of you. To be tough enough . . . but gentle enough . . . Your words show your wisdom during this difficult time. Hoping for that resolution to come on Thursday.

Becky Shillington said...

Carol, I am so sorry that you and your son are going through this right now. One day he will be wise enough to tell you "THANK YOU" for all of your love and support, but for now, just know that you are being a wonderful mom. It's not always what we signed up for, is it? Prayers for you!

Penny Jansen said...

If a person could write THE parenting manual he or she would be filthy rich.

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