The Sound of Silence

Remember the past year or so of posts I’ve intermittently written regarding my son? You know, when I’m anxious about his homework not being done, or not being turned in, or he’s failing a class, or he’s only thinking about work?

I have reduced my expectations to the point where I celebrate that he only failed one class this semester.

I have dried my tears at seeing the mothers and their children at Starbucks just like we used to do every Saturday morning.

I have shut my mouth about what I want him to do, and I’m letting him do what he wants to do. (Basically.) If I drop him off at the front door of the school at 7:18 every morning, and he leaves out the back door at 7:20 to go have a smoke at the Carillon across the street, that’s up to him.

If he gets 90% or higher on all his exams, but still fails the class because he didn’t hand in one scrap of homework, that’s up to him.

If he promises me an hour at Starbucks along with my Christmas gift card, and my heart is silently crying as all the time of Winter break escapes before it comes true, that’s up to him.

And then what does he do?

He actually notices that his High School is sponsoring a Mother Son Brunch, thinks of inviting me, uses the money he’s earned to buy two tickets for us to go, and then slips them into his stepfather’s hand so it will be a surprise for me.

I’m surprised, all right. It looks like my son is returning to the boy I once knew. Funny how that happens when I finally shut my mouth.

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32 thoughts on “The Sound of Silence”

  1. Awwww. No matter what he does or doesn't do, no matter what he says or doesn't say, he still loves his mommy. You were, of course, his very first love. Deep down, he feels your pain. He may not want to acknowledge or admit it, but he does feel it.Love, Les

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  2. YAY! You know I am one person over here, just 2 and 1/2 hours west of you on 88 who champions this kid's cause. That little boy isn't gone. He's still in there, and when he gets through whatever he needs to get through to be a grownup, he is going to be a really cool adult. I'm sure of it. Go to the brunch with him and enjoy.

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  3. 🙂 <—-that was going to be the whole content of my comment because I thought that was all that was required, but add me to Mrs. T's comment 😉

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  4. Les, it's so funny how your phrase "he still loves his mommy" is exactly what my husband says. (Over and over ad nauseum the past one and a half years because I've felt quite the opposite. :)Chris, :)Mrs. T, I didn't know we were THAT close! In teaching philosophy, and bathroom remodeling, yes, but not 2.5 hours away. Thanks for all the "championing" you've given, which seems, in fact to be finally actualizing. When I say I shut up, by the way, I don't mean he has my permission to do anything he wants. It's just that I've figured out the natural consequences of his actions (i.e. taking summer school for the class he could've easily passed) is far more effective than any punishment I can think of. It's so different parenting a teenager than an elementary child. I'm the one who's learning, and growing, I think.

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  5. Bellezza -Ah, the fun of having a teenager. It all comes down to letting go, doesn't it? No kids of my own to speak about but I have played a large part in raising my nieces (according to them, anyway) and I can tell you this – they do listen to what you're saying, even when you don't think they are. Doing can sometimes be far more important than saying, and one day, when you least expect it, you will suddenly realize that you are in the company of a rather decent young man. You're very lucky in that a bit of him has already shown up. How wonderful for you.cjh

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  6. Oh, that's so sweet. I love what Mrs. T and Chris said and I so agree. I also think that there will be times that you'll think, "Good grief, my child is an alien. There's no way he's mine." Failing a class, the smoking, the not turning in papers . . . we went through all that. It's because they're human. There are ways your son will stray from your principles and hopes; some he may choose to abandon completely. I've gotten a lot of that with my eldest, but all you can do is guide them and then let them choose. You're doing the best you can. Hang onto the good stuff for all you're worth and remember that you instilled your beliefs in him from a young age. Remember that wonderful Bible verse about leading your child in the way they should go and "when they grow up they will not depart from it". I've been clinging to that one for many, many years.

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  7. CJ, I completely agree about doing is more important than saying. By far. Your neices are lucky to have you!Bookfool, I love that verse from Proverbs: Train a child in the way he shall go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Chapter 22, I think. Anyway, I cling to it too. The only thing is, I notice it says, "when he is OLD", and sometimes that makes me wonder how long I'll have to wait. For example, my brother is 42, and my parents are still waiting on him…:)

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  8. That's so sweet of him. 🙂 I hope it's a nice time.Reading that made me think of my own mom, who seems to share a similar insecurity. I know she also made a huge effort to stand back and let me do my own thing, only interfering when things got serious. I've always loved her, and I had a great childhood and teenage years.And yet just a few months ago when my mom was visiting me, she asked me sincerely "Was I a good mother?" I asked her to explain, and I was stunned at how she had convinced herself that I resented my adolescent years. I also had crap grades for what I was capable of, did some nasty things, and wasn't always the model son. So I assured her that a) I was happy, and b) everything she likes about me today is a result of her influence.It's not always easy for a boy to appreciate his mother, especially because he hasn't realized the remarkable lasting effects your care will have/is having on his manhood. Once he grows into himself, if he's any sort of introspective, he'll be able to recognize that things about himself of which he's proud are reflections of your love. Of course I can only speak from my own experience, but this gesture from him seems to me to prove that he does understand what a profound positive influence you've had. He wants you with him, and he wants you with him as his mother. That must be an incredible feeling.Anyway, this is your blog, so here's your soapbox back. Sorry to ramble. It's my way.P.S. I didn't know you were from Naperville. I grew up in Hoffman Estates and Long Grove myself. Stevenson High School. I think your son and I are rivals. Grr.

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  9. What a wonderful story! Makes you realize just how important these gestures from your children can be. I'm sure it is hard for you to let him make some of his own decisions, but it definitely sounds like you're being the kind of mother he needs and I'm glad he made that effort to appreciate you.

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  10. Having had three teenage sons (and three teenage daughters), I can honestly say that in the end (lots of prayer, patience, grace,love and open communication lines),they all come through it. (of course … our survival is another matter:)).That was a very sweet gesture from your son and I hope you have a wonderful time together.

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  11. Of course he will love you and remain your boy for the rest of your life. Mothers have especially tight bonds with children and don't worry about the rebellion. As a teen I speak for everyone and I am convinced that the minute a parent tries to be mentoring a switch in the teens brain flips and does exactly the opposite. It's a defense mechanism to prove independence and separate thinking. When a parent shuts up the teen has the opportunity to really show those qualities and everyone is happy. With this said I rest my case.PS: Your son did the kindest thing.

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  12. He does love you unconditionally–but he's just going through growing pains–independent one minute, good the next, rebelling the next–it is natural. All teens want space, want attention, want parents who don't embarrass them, want to do half the talking, want space….want attention, want more space…it's a roller coaster ride.

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  13. You will always be his first love. Even though he might have trouble showing it during his teen years, he does love you. It's hard when they are trying to be "independent". They have a hard time balancing their relationship with their loved ones. Particularly the one they are closest to. But once they realize how to balance it… ah… the relationship is restored and the past is buried and forgotten. God is good… ALL the time. He showers us with mercy and grace.Rejoicing with you! May this be the beginning of a relationship with your son. Blessing to you and yours…

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  14. I hope you have a great time. Sometimes it is tough being a kid–I know that my sisters and I have caused my mom a lot of anguish (and my brother is just on the brink at age 11), but now we are the best of friends. I don't know what I would do without her.Have a great time at the brunch!

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  15. 42? The perfect number. Any day now, right? Well, hopefully you won't have to wait that long. I already can tell there are certain things I'm just going to have to work at letting go of with my eldest. It's difficult because you don't want to alienate your child but you also don't want them to make stupid choices, as they get older. So, with adult children you have to decide to step back. And, I'm a control freak. I know it's going to be hard, but I've gotta let go.I love what SuziQ said. And, wow, you know your Bible. I just paraphrase and don't know where much of what I was made to memorize as a child is located, anymore. But, I'm so glad I have those verses to carry with me.

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  16. It's SO interesting to me to read each and every one of your perspectives. It seems that I am not alone in my parenting, and what, I suddenly forgot all the times I told my mother I hated her? It's very odd to be on this side of the fence, instead of on the, ahem, teen side. Thank you, all, for sharing your thoughts and perspectives.

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  17. Teenagers are such a mystery. I wish I could tell you things I can't in this comment section. Just know it WILL get better. His true self just peeked through. It will happen more and more. Kim

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  18. I finished my third book for the Japanese Literature Challange. I posted my review. I'm so excited to have finished my first challange! I might have to buy a new book to celebrate, lol. ~ L

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  19. I've read your post a couple of times and then the comments. I find those of the young men so interesting. My son was a very quiet, compliant child and teen. When he was thirteen, we made a decision to change churches. We left the one that I had grown up in, been married in, had my babies dedicated in, but the change became necessary. A hard time? Indeed.After a little while, my son came to me and said, "Mom, I want to go back to the other church." We talked about it with his dad and told him that if he did, he could not stay home and sleep in, he had to go. (We left early for choir and first service.) He never missed. One of the saints in the church met with him on Saturday mornings and discipled him.Later on, when we talked about it, he told me, "Mom, you weren't there watching everything that I did." And it turned out o.k. It wasn't what we would have chosen, to have our family at different churches, but it worked.

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  20. Beverly, one of the bastions that I hang on to is that my son still goes willingly to church with us.When I've analyzed my wants, expectations, hopes for his future it all comes down to this: that he loves the Lord with all his strength, with all his might, with all his soul. Nothing else matters to me.Raising our sons is an experience, isn't it? I'm so grateful for His help.

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  21. To add a light word, there's a great quote I have in my quote book from Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler:Well, isn't that always the way! No sooner do you get your children nicely pigeonholed than they turn around and surprise you.

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  22. Listen – it is so hard to watch someone grow up. Maybe he outgrew starbucks?Have you ever read Wrong About Japan by Peter carey? I think its one of hi s best books where he finds himself having trouble relating with his youngest son. They can not seem to interact on any level so he decides to take up one of his child's past times – manga!the story brings the author and son to Japan! Its really great and may just give you some ideas.Am very happyto hear about the brunch.

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  23. Nessie, thanks for telling me about that book. It sounds great! I do think we have to meet our kids where they're at, and I know I have to compromise on some of my expectations. I'm telling you, when you raise a child, you have to learn things yourself!

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  24. So sweeet. I haven't been here in ages, but whimsically tripped on over today. Your son sounds like my brother. (Albeit my brother is 25.) I mean in terms of the rebellious boy thing.And I'm impressed that you're reading War and Peace! (I have tried to do Russian lit more than once and have given up, mostly.)Also, love the origami. I should try to get back into doing that, I love papercrafts.Speaking of Japanese lit, have you read any of the cell phone novels? There was an article in the NYT a few weeks ago about it. xo,SLPS I think the coolest part is that he used his own money and made sure it was a surprise.

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