5th Grade

To the beginning of 8th grade... What a difference three years can make.

“Please understand that everything I ask you to do has a purpose. Whether it’s learning to take out the trash and recycling every week, completing your homework on time, giving others your attention while they are performing, or remembering to say thank you when someone gives you a compliment – all of these things are lessons meant to help you make an easier transition into adulthood.” His reply; “I’m a teenager, mom. What do you expect?”

I wanted to say “I expect you to do everything I ask, immediately, without question.” Well maybe I did say something along those lines during our hour long conversation. It was more like… please know that every time I have to repeat a request, I get a little angrier each time. Luckily, a close friend of mine with three boys explained to me that she never expects her boys to complete a task the first time she asks. This way, she’s ready to ask several times or pleasantly surprised if it happens at once. It helped me put things in perspective because when my kids were little it was rare that I had to ask them to do something more than once. Then came middle school.

Why did I have an hour long conversation with my son, Kai? Because the evening before we were like two angry bulls, red in the face and ready to charge at one another. Sometimes dealing with Kai is a lot like having to deal with myself. His streak of independence and determination can astound me when he practices a piece of music non-stop for hours and then frustrate me incredibly when he says he has his own “system” for taking out the recycle – one that sometimes leaves empty cans on our pantry floor.

I realized how alike we were when he was two and I tried to pull the old … “It’s time to leave the park now. Bye… I’m leaving…right now… bye… bye.” I waited at the car with my friend who already had her twins strapped into their car seats. She shook her head and laughed as we watched Kai across the empty park playing, unphased that we had all left. He wanted to stay. I recalled a similar story of how at a very young age I insisted on riding an elevator alone. My parents and grandparents were running up and down the stairs shouting “Krista, get off the elevator!” I wasn’t frightened; I simply stepped out when I was done riding.

When I see a quality of myself in my children that I know caused me some snags in my transition from teen to adult, I desperately want to help my kids better understand themselves in order to prevent some of the hardships I faced. For example stubbornness can be good when focused toward bettering yourself or overcoming obstacles but bad when it stops you from seeing someone else’s point of view.

We discussed our similarities and our differences. I tried to explain my parental point of view.I listened to Kai and tried to understand his feelings. We ended our conversation with laughter and, “I’m a teenager mom, what do you expect?”

Our relationship has changed. He is no longer the little boy whose biggest concern was when he’d be old enough to stay up past eight pm. like his sister.  I’m constantly questioning my husband in order to better understand what my son may be feeling at this stage in his life. Sometimes I feel lost – unable to relate.

I’m still stunned when I hear Kai’s voice or hug him and have to reach up to put my arms around his shoulders. My little boy is gone. Before me is a young man who I must continue to get to know, understand, and gently guide. A young man who I am extremely proud of and who I continue to tell that I love him to the moon and back and around the earth a billion times.

Here’s a great example of what a good dose of determination will produce. Kai taught himself how to play this and practiced for hours. Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire.

Comments to "Mom and Son"

  1. Jessica

    November 20, 2011

    Each day I grow more and more certain that teenagers – perhaps the boy version specifically -were created to test our stamina, endurance and humor. I see Kai and his million watt smile and the passion in his fingers, and I have no doubt that at the end of his testing years, you will have created a compassionate, responsible man who will do great things. I, too, spent 8th grade (the year of Billy Joel, Phil Collins, and Mr Barley) writing and composing at the piano…and watching him play strikes a certain chord of nostalgia within me. Please pass on that I think his ‘Work in Progress’ piece is magnificent!!

    • kdrausin

      November 20, 2011

      Thanks Jess! And thank you for listening to Kai’s music. I’ll tell him.

      Billy Joel and Phil Collins – still listen to them every week!

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