Saturday, December 17, 2011

Watching and Learning

Since I'm embarking on this great adventure of becoming Mama to teenage boy, I have been watching more closely.  I teach teenage boys all day long you know, and I have found myself becoming more observant in my own classroom of just how do those crazy little volitile minds work.  Some of it I knew, but have never had to make application.  Some of it just plain out right baffles me.  Teenage girls I get.  Obviously I have my own experience to draw from there, plus the countless hours I have put in in ministry to this population.  And coaching cheerleading helps a little on that front.  But boys.  Boys are all new to me.  And so I find myself fascinated trying to soak it all in.

For instance, I engaged a boy in my 4th period class in conversation for approximately 10 whole minutes before class started on his skin care routine (we did do some grammar that day as well, before you think we wasted the entire class...).  But he was in a craze about one small little pimple that just had to go before the big important night where he would be seeing some girl.  He wanted to know, "What should I do, Mrs. Herndon?"  Walk through it with me, I said.  "Clearsil this.  Neutrogena, that...But is it going to go away in time?"  Oh, the drama.

Last Friday I gave the assignment to, over the weekend, write about what you did using so many action verbs, so many adjectives, etc. At first I was just mindlessly reading and grading these papers, but then my mind started to hang on some of them.  This was a window into their home lives.  I was drawn to my seemingly most happy, most successful students who I know have good relationships with their parents.  What were their lives like outside of school?  What do they do with their time? It was actually very plain and simple.  There was talk of eating dinner with their family, watching movies, going to get a Christmas tree, working on some homework, having a few friends over.  It was a very sharp contrast to students I have whose lives are on the fringe.  A sense of normalcy and just wanting and liking being home with their parents was such a desireable thing. 

And then there are wrestling matches.  I'm becoming quite the pro at this whole Team Mom thing you know.  And each week I am baffled that this boy wants to sit with me in front of all of his friends.  Chooses to ride home with us instead of riding the bus with all of his friends.  I look around and see the other boys with parents there doing the same thing.  Sitting with Mom.  Sitting with Dad.  There is another student on the wrestling team whose parents are MIA.  Last night he turned around to me and said, "Did you get to see my match?"  "No I missed it!" I said.  And he proceeded to tell me about it play by play.  And when that wasn't good enough, he found someone who had videoed it.  "You gotta watch!" And so we sat side by side and he showed me, play by play, pausing and rewinding, until I was completely up to speed. 

I guess it is not all that surprising a discovery to make.  And yet it makes this job of parenting hold even more weight than we ever imagined because it does not decrease or diminish with the age of the child like some tend to think.  I will be honest and say that I was a little afraid. I feared that starting with a teenager and not a baby was not going to fulfill this mothering heart that God has put in me because really, how much would a teenage boy actually want a mom anyway?  But it's only been a few short weeks - for goodness sake we are not even the "official" parents yet! - and already I'm seeing it. I'm learning it.

And so just when I think I have made my adult self too available, just when I think I have not been "cool enough," just when I think I have crossed the line and am going to completely embarass these boys by actually paying attention to them, I have learned that this is exactly what they want.

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