One week ago Jordan sat and took his ACT exams for college entrance. It’s like being on a slide sprayed with furniture polish as I watch my boys line up and prepare to leave our home. Jordan has five weeks left of his junior year, and then he’s going to be a senior. He will also be seventeen in a few weeks. He thinks it is going to be all fun ruling the school, being at the top. Oh if you could see him strut when he thinks about this. But he’s got some big decisions to make and they aren’t going to make his life fun. This is where I take a deep breath and gather up all my parenting skills, organize them like a mechanic with a tool belt and hope I can pull out the right one at the right time. I also hope that when I am supposed to wait for him to rev his own engine into gear that I don’t do anything, and even more importantly say anything so he can find his own “go”.
It’s so tempting to nag teenagers at this stage in their lives. But I’m not a nag. I’m just a firm obstacle. What Jordan doesn’t know now is that emotionally he’s going to do some flips when he begins his senior year. I remember scratching my forehead and wondering where in the world did our carefree Donny go when he hit his senior year. There are so many unknowns, big ones, and to admit fear isn’t cool, so they ooze weird from every decision instead. Craig and I are going to buckle up tight pretty soon because we are in for another wild ride.
This Saturday Jordan started a new job! He is now cleaning stalls and doing odd jobs at the stables where Gwinny lives. He worked from eight to four yesterday, and by the end of the day he was one tired kid with a satisfying pocket full of money. We made him go to church with us and out to dinner despite his request to collapse, and he somehow perked up to enjoy some family time.
He is as serious as ever about his ROTC program and sure he wants to study criminology. Occasionally he will suggest he could enlist after high school. He knows that’s my brick wall. Go to college and go into the services as an officer. Period. That’s what I believe. I am sure he needs those four years of college to learn more about who he is and what God wants him to do with the talents and gifts he’s been given.
I’m unqualified to give wise counsel with this issue because I’m totally biased. I don’t believe a child is an adult until 22, because their minds are still developing, and studies show this. I know Donny thinks much more like an adult now half way through his college adventure than he did when he graduated high school. He is beginning to see problems from the perspective of an adult and not from the perspective of a kid.
At eighteen a child is still seeing life as “me” versus “them”, meaning his parents who won’t indulge fantasies and who require more grounding and education before big life decisions are made. It is SO hard to parent at this age. It makes parenting the little tough Kira with her big personality in a little package an easy job. One thing I know about Jordan and it’s been true and consistent since he was as little as Kira, he’s loyal and stubborn…even if he’s not right about it.
I know I know I know I know I don’t get to direct his life choices. I don’t want to be in control in case anyone wants to accuse me of that. I just don’t want him to make irreversible decisions and have regret when I can possibly help with some broader perspective and wisdom until the point at which he can see life more like an adult and less like a kid.
Who said they are legal adults at eighteen anyway? I’d like to look that person in the eye and demand a reasonable explanation. In fact I might pull out the stink eye and the mama finger in that meeting.