About twelve to thirteen, I started getting mouthy. I agreed with my mother most of the time until then. I wasn't like my oldest sister, who could sit there when she was a toddler informing my mother, "You can keep on talking, but I'm not listening."
A late summer morning, either before seventh grade or eighth grade, my parents and I finished breakfast. I believe my mom said something like, "You can do the dishes." I guess I already made up my mind to do them, but the way she said it seemed to me like she didn't think I would do them. I sassed her back about being stupid or something. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed my dad raise from his chair, then suddenly sit back down. Due to his whiplash, he had tremendous headaches and dizziness. I knew if he had been in better health, I would have felt his furry with me showing disrespect to my mother.
That action gave me pause. I couldn't apologize, but I didn't say any more. I ran the hot water. The funny part of that morning, is I did love doing dishes in that kitchen. The window faced the east, the sun shining over our side yard, as the leaves from the huge maple danced around. I could watch people travel on Haywood Street. I turned on the radio that sat on a small shelf by the kitchen door, listening to the latest tunes. I think my favorite part was drying the iron skillets. I placed them over the gas burner, the flame rising to boil the little bit of water left from the rinsing. I knew I was done then, too. I finished a chore, the sink wiped out and dishes airing in the rack.
I see this attitude in a lot of children. They want to be helpful, just don't tell them to do it or remind them. I blamed my mother that day for upsetting me. If she had just let me do the dishes as I planned, instead of telling me to do what I was starting to do, I wouldn't have been so angry. Ah, youth. If every thing could just go our way, there'd be no rebellion, yes?
I tried to learn from how I felt. I thought if I were more understanding as a mother, allow choices, the mouthy kid wouldn't show up at my house. I soon found that it doesn't matter how reasonable you are, that spirit of independence discovers itself with assertion. That really is how God made all of us. The teen years are a time of breaking away, finding oneself while it is still safe. Parents of faith probably have a hard time with this, because they have poured their beliefs into their children since the crib, maybe even the womb. We are given a free will and offspring must find their own faith, own way of worshiping and serving God.
I've been thinking of the Prodigal son parable lately. I think the hardest inaction for that father was to just let his son go. Sure he hurt when the son demanded his inheritance, basically saying, "Drop dead." But watching his boy leave with no training, no knowledge of the world, knowing the son would get hurt, would maybe die proved harder. He would want to save his child all that pain, if he could.
We can't save our children from hurts. We find that out the first time they fall and cry. We can't make them think like us. They come with a built in personality. We give them rules, tools, guidelines and have to trust God with the rest. Remember He loves them much more than we ever can, and that is saying a lot.