me and my oldest

how to raise a ten year old

{slightly different from how to train a dragon}

my second son comes upstairs to tell me that the oldest hit a ball in the garage and the ball hit an african artifact and it’s now in pieces. the artifact, that is.

i send down my response, “no more baseball.”

i find myself only this calm after ten years of parenting. i’ve learned to choose my battles and today is not one.

that second son appears again reporting that the oldest is making faces and smart comments. i’m not sure why. i gave the command, this child was just relaying the message. but i operate that way too – wanting to pout and be a punk to someone. life is just hard sometimes.

i call my oldest upstairs. it’s the last place he wants to be. in a room with his momma who’s about to give him another one of those talks.

and i do.

my mom says we are the parenting generation that talks everything out. i tell mom that her generation went straight to the consequences, not much said.

“true love waits,” said the previous parenting generation.

“why?” we asked.

“disease. danger. don’t do it,” were quick unexplained replies.

in the midst of my “talking it out,” i am wondering how will my ten year old learn? what will it take? how do i get through to him?

i arrive at what seems to be a dead end.

i know i can’t change him.

i can apply control, but from what i’ve seen watching parents ahead of me, that never ends well.

“i don’t know what to do?” i say.

he’s probably hoping he can get on with his life. and i know that the moment in the garage wasn’t a solo moment.

parenting never is. it’s a series of moments that must be navigated well as the ten year old learns how to do life with choices, with people, with guidance, with self-control.

his head still hangs low.

i share my prayers for him recently. i pray offensively knowing that he has a mouth that can speak life or death. he has a following at school and on the field that are watching him, mimicking him. he has brothers that still think he’s cool.

i’m back to talking too much. i stop.

then i tell him to grab the gardening gloves. we were going to pull weeds.

his head is not low anymore. even his eyes perk up with a look, “what in the world?”

the act of pulling weeds was a way not to ignore what just happened with his words and actions.

pulling weeds seemed to be better than sending him to his room to deal alone or take screen time away.

i joined him out on the front walkway leading up to our house. not because i had completed my to-do list for the day or that this was one of them. i joined him because he’s not walking through this life alone. the good, the bad, and the ugly. if i’m going to cheer him on from the baseball stands, i’m going to pull weeds with him when he just doesn’t get it. when he’s got it all bottled up inside and i can’t change him.

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i can’t escape it. i see the world through pictures. many rooted in spiritual lessons.

“were these weeds here yesterday?” i asked him.

“yes.” his reply.

“and the day before?”

“yes.”

“they didn’t get here overnight, but over time.  if we don’t pull the weeds, our walkway will be so uninviting.”

the way to our front door will be overtaken, overrun.

as we tugged, we both were only getting the tips of the grassy weeds.

pulling was frustrating. we each pulled quietly for a while.

then we made small talk about the present. we talked pebbles and weather.

we heard noises from our new neighbor’s home as they had task rabbitsdoing their manual labor today.

“mom, help me lift the stone.”

it took both of us.

once the stone was out of the way, we could get a better handle on the problem. i mean the weeds.

we tugged more and pulled up roots. it was a glorious feeling. to grab the entirety of the problem. to remove it all.

we were making progress together. conversation rolled into weekend plans and the highlights of the day.

he told me that he wants to better. that he wants to keep his mouth from lashing out so quickly.

then the ten-year-old tugged and pulled up a carrot.

good things come from getting to the root of it all.

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i refuse to become distant as he grows independent.

when there can be more joy, more relationship.

i refuse to go with the cultural flow that allows parents an “out” when parenting gets too hard.

as i help raise a ten-year-old {and there’s more to come},

i am reminded he still needs me, but i must work at it.

i am desperate for God’s wisdom and His eyes to see what He sees in my ten year old.

and moments, just the two of us, are crucial.

that night our bedtime ritual was stronger. he beat me to saying, “i love you.”

i prayed over him and left the room knowing that God was doing the same.

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while i’m enjoying the start of the summer with my kids, i’m so glad to bring you  some of my favorite posts. i’ll be back with new and fresh posts in july. but while i’m away, i’ll be instagramming our june stories and replying to any comments here.