My teenagers have informed me that they no longer want me to write about them on my blog. This has been a dilemma for me, in that without writing about them, I have a severe shortage of topics. I've tried to honor their requests as best as I can, but I've found it difficult not to incorporate the mothering part of myself into this on-going documentation of my life. Finally, I told them that I would compromise.... we'll see how I do. *sigh* I suppose this is yet another stepping stone in parenting my almost adult children.
That said, I feel compelled to post an update on my wayward son, who has made such an effort to straighten out his life. I think that it is only fair to him that I share the good after so openly sharing the ugly details of his mistakes.
In the past few months, John has made every effort to improve his failing grades - and he's managed to bring them all up to high C's and B's', which hasn't been easy considering he had let them slide for so long, in addition to having the disadvantage of being home-bound for the first half of the school year, which caused a huge brouhaha in the grading system for his teachers once he returned to school. What looked to be a year of failure has turned into a year of success, and for that I am both proud and grateful. The credit goes to John because he took it upon himself to find the inner strength and determination to turn things around.
Regarding the subject of the misdemeanor drug charge and court appearance - John appeared in court on June 1. The charge was suspended and he was given 24 hours of community service. Once he completes the community service, the charge will be dropped. Since that date, John has been staying after school and he has performed community service daily. By the end of this week, his community service hours will be fulfilled. Again, the credit goes to John for taking the bull by the horns and working with the school to arrange service hours. His completion date was set for August 1st, but by jumping in and trying to put it behind him, he will be done by June 17. I never said a word about this... telling him only that he had to figure it out and get it done. His aggressive plan of attack is paying off and he not only will get it done, but he will have done so with dignity and a positive attitude.
And finally, the puzzle picture above - John has begun to spend a lot more time at home doing things that are a whole lot healthier than drugs. One day last week, he started digging through my closets and rummaging around in odd places. When I finally asked him what the heck he was doing in "my stuff," he told me that he was looking for puzzles. Since then, he and Taylor have become puzzle maniacs. I will admit that I have some pretty cool puzzles because I usually buy them when I travel around the country, so they are mostly historical in nature and replications of true artistry. Currently, John and Taylor are working on the Oregon Trail puzzle. Next in line is the Lewis and Clark puzzle (there you go... my Pacific Northwest roots are showing!). This afternoon, Alyssa came upstairs and said, "Mom, I don't think you need to keep checking on Taylor and John every minute because all they ever do is puzzles." I had to laugh, and then I let out a HUGE sigh of relief - puzzles are such a better sight than kissing and cuddling - because, yes, that's what parents of teenagers often see, and it is very disconcerting. However, I've not seen kissing and cuddling since the puzzles came out. My sense of relief is undeniable.
Sometimes, good kids make bad choices - I've seen it happen time and time again, and it always breaks my heart. But when it happened with my own child, I didn't think I could bear the burden. The stress, the anguish, and the worry were so beyond my realm of reality that I didn't know how to begin to make this right. I soon discovered that all I knew how to do was go with my gut instinct, and my gut told me that the best approach should be first and foremost love. Admittedly, I had anger, but the love I have for this child overrode any anger I felt, and so that is where I began, and that is how I was able to find strength.
In hindsight, I can honestly say that I was not the only one to draw strength from my love - I think that John sensed my unconditional love in a way that allowed him to find his own inner strength. And in this situation, his inner strength was the only thing that would correct the mistake and change his ways. Mommy gut. That's what I call it. There is something to be said about "just knowing" even though it doesn't make sense and may not seem the right avenue to take at the time. I'm so glad that I listened to my Mommy gut, because, once again, it has served me well.
My sincere hope is that the changes I see in John are part of a growth process that continues through the years. Currently, he is worried that he will not regain the respect and trust from those adults whom he so greatly admires - teachers, neighbors, and parents of his friends. My only advice to him is to continue doing what he is doing - that being working hard and respecting himself - because I truly believe that self respect goes a long way towards earning the respect of others. I also know that John is a good kid... he made a mistake, and now he's making it right. And at the end of the day, that is all any parent can ask for because a good change is always the best kind of change there is.