Last weekend I took the kids to get new shoes. A luxury no doubt. As they chirp from the back seat about the new Labron’s(I’m sorry, I am NOT buying $135 pair of shoes for my still growing children’s feet) or the new KD’s(Same story, different celebrity) and I’m thinking seriously, what are my children turning into? Even bringing them down to “reality” involves a nice pair of tennis shoes. In my defense, 2 of the 3 kids walked in with holes in their shoes. But still (as an aside….if you have purchased these particular shoes for your kid, this is NOT a criticism. It’s an observation of the ATTITUDE in MY kid that accompanied this particular shopping trip. He displayed no gratitude, and he’s a good kid, but in this particular circumstance, gratitude and respect would have taken him a lot further. Maybe not to a pair of KD’s, but still. You get the point right?).
The almost(less than 2 weeks away, holy cow how did that happen so fast?!) 10-year-old took the news of no KD’s the hardest. I have no idea what possessed him to even entertain the thought that I’d purchase those shoes for him. But I guess that’s sort of the struggle. Teaching them some perspective in a world that’s full of stuff we all would love to have.
We stood in the 3rd store, pacing back and forth, Lila running ramped like a crazed lunatic because her attention span ended 2 stores ago when she got her Barbie Keds. Josh had chosen his shoes at the last store, and apparently Nike Air Max is the way to go if your parent is too “cheap” to get the famous basketball player’s shoes. So, Jake was on the hunt. But for a different color because matching his little brother would just be insane and ridiculous. Again, I’m noticing a total lack of perspective that sort of scares the crap out of me. But I try my hardest to be patient with him as he attempts to choose. Then, the foot stomp. Aw heeeellllllll no. Not on my watch. So, to the car we went.
You guys. He stomped his foot?! In the store, where I was going to BUY HIM SHOES. So we left. Shoeless. With the hole filled Nikes on his feet. I know they have a very narrow lens in which to see the world. He’s only been on this earth 9 years and his perspective is limited to what he’s been raised in. But, gratitude and appreciation are two things I hold in high esteem when it comes to character in my kids. Even if they haven’t been to a third world country yet, I pray we instill a sense of gratitude and willingness to work hard into their little lives. And this age is hard.
They are old enough to sit next to you in the front seat, messing with YOUR radio and hearing every word you say to your friend on the phone, who you used to be able to talk to openly or at least in code because they were too little to understand…..or spell. But then they grow up. They get attitude and a desire to please other’s. To fit in and look cool and do what everyone else does and have what everyone else has. And this is NOT be being critical of other kids you guys. These are my kids I’m talking about. And we are constantly trying to figure out how to navigate parenting them. And I don’t think we’re alone.
I don’t even know how often I use the phrase, “if so and so jumped off a cliff, would you?!?!?!?!” It is inevitably said with bulging mom eyes and a total lack of self-control. The response is always a “why in the world would you say that?! Of course not!!!!” But it’s true isn’t it? The desire to fit in is strong. The swaying back and forth in mood is annoying, but needs some tender navigating at times. One minute he’s coming in for a hug or a heart-felt apology, the next he’s stomping his foot in the middle of Dick’s because the shoes he want’s are about $100 too expensive. But seriously though. 10 is also really fun. I know we have a long road ahead through the teenage years but you guys, it’s not that long. In 6-7 years we’ll be thinking about colleges. Filling out applications and Josh will be a teenager and Lila will be the 10 year old. It happens that fast.
So with one more year of elementary school left, we want to make it count. We’re doing our best to figure out this new season of parenting. With a kid who can spell all the words and whose friends carry cell phones just to come jump on our trampoline. It’s not an entirely different world from when we were kids. But it’s different now that we are on the parenting end of it. A friend of mine who used to teach 4th grade told me that something happens to 4th grade boys towards the end of the school year. They get harder. Then sweet again. Then hard again. It sways back and forth like a strong Texas breeze and we’re trying desperately to keep up so we can tackle the teenage years with grace and at least a spec of our sanity. We do have two kids to follow him after all.
And we know the very best and worst of our kids. We know how amazing our soon to be 10 year old is. Seriously. He’s funny and smart and kind. He’s everyones friend. He’s creative and an amazing little athlete. He can go deep and talk to you about real life and real stuff. And right now, he WANTS to talk to us about his life.
But each phase of parenting brings fun new adventures as well as new challenges. And that’s where we are. We are having to make sure hair actually gets washed, because if not, it smells. We’re making sure homework gets done and tests are studied for. Being intentional to lend a listening ear, because right now, he really wants to talk to us. And we all know that may not last. We’re trying to help shape and mold him spiritually and help him grow in maturity. In kindness. Trying to teach him to see people. People who are sad or lonely or in need. To focus less on the KD’s or Labron’s and more on the kid sitting alone at the lunch table.
To be grateful and humble. To love God and love people, because that’s really what we’re called to do…..and by doing those two things, grace and love and empathy will trickle down into the other facets of his life. And those are the things we want now, before we lose him to weekends with friends and DRIVING an actual car. Now is the time. Well, it HAS been the time since he was born, but now it’s crunch time. He’s nearly 10 and on the verge of the pre-teen years. And we need to get a grip. To listen more, talk a little less.
To look up from our phones once in a while or better yet, PUT THEM DOWN(talking to myself here), because we expect the same from them. To love on their friends and welcome them into our homes. To spend time with them. To eat dinner together. To cheer for them at their baseball games and listen to all the things that happened at school that day, that they will no doubt want to tell you right at bed time, when you are ready to collapse. To love them unconditionally and be more mature than they are, which is hard to do sometimes.
It’s hard being a parent. It’s rewarding and filled with endless amounts of adventure. But it’s hard. And each phase is different. And you do your best to hang on for dear life while hopefully making some positive impact on them and doing your best to keep them out of therapy when they grow up. But we’re all human, and so are they. So wether they are 10 or 2 or 22, they are our kids. And they need our unconditional love, understanding and grace. Even when we want to pull our hair out, or theirs. Because our time with them is short. The days really are long and the years quick, and we want need to make it count. Even if that involves some foot stomping every once in a while….both theirs, and yours.
We will survive 10. And spend a little more time on our knees. Praying for wisdom and guidance. For a sense of humor and the ability to not over-react. Because there world is different. It’s fast and immediate. It’s all whatever man be who you want to be. So, they need us to parent them through each phase and to do it well, and with grace. Failure? Yes, every day. But get back up and keep doing your thing momma’s and daddy’s. Our job is ever so important. And they need us on our A game. So go buy yourself a pair of KD’s and get to work.