All day long there were tears ever present at the corner of my eyes. All I could think was….have I done enough? Have I given him enough opportunities? Have I adequately prepared him for what is beyond high school? With more tears, I thought how I would give anything to travel back in time to his elementary school days and relive just one of those years all over again.
It seems like yesterday I was standing on my neighbor’s lawn and watching my first grader board the school bus. Many of those days I had to drag him onto the bus as he begged and cried for me not to make him go. It was a tough time for my kiddos. Their dad and I were getting a divorce, we moved into a new house in a new neighborhood and Austin began first grade at a new school.
His first grade teacher, Mrs. Fleck, was a wonderful and kind teacher. She called me the first week and said Austin had spent a lot of time at his desk crying those first few days. With amusement, she told me when she tried to comfort him he said “My kindergarten teacher from my old school won an award from Star 101.5 for being the best teacher.”
Austin also started playing soccer when we first moved to Redmond. Sadly, a broken arm ended his season two-thirds of the way through. As the doctor was wrapping up his arm in a cast she asked him how he broke it. When Austin told her it was the monkey bars, she told him she sees lots of hurt little kids because of the monkey bars. With tears rolling down his cheeks and a whimper in his voice he responded, “Yeah…..they are kinda tricky.”
I will never forget when he stepped up to bat one of his first years playing baseball and I could see through his white pants to the planes and cars imprinted on his Underoos. It was also during those first few years he was usually last in the batting lineup. Parents may look at me in disgust when I say there were times when the bases were loaded and our team had two outs; I prayed the pitcher hit him with the ball so Austin could take a base. I could deal with a bruise, not a broken heart.
I will never forget his first home run or the All Star Baseball game when he was intentionally walked. I will never forget the smile on his face after those games, or what the coaches said about Austin at the end of the season. No home run or double play can compare to the wonderful things the coaches said about my son.
He’s darn lucky I’m not THAT cruel, and I let that name die at the dinner table that night.
I’ve loved every moment raising this boy, even when he tested his boundaries. Even when he told me he was planning on growing up to be a gangster. Even when I asked him to go pick up something in the yard and he responded with “I don’t have my shoes on YO!”
My heart swelled even more this summer when I realized he found a good group of friends. Friends who were kind enough to stick out a hand and respectfully introduce themselves to his little sister.
Austin drives now, and has been caught spinning his tires and squealing around the corners. I’m guessing, though, he won’t be doing that anymore after I told him how much a new set of tires will cost him. I love the independence he’s gained from driving, but I constantly pray for his safety. I also miss the conversations we had as I drove him from place to place.
I laugh remembering one particular conversation while we drove in the car. He was sharing with me all the awkward stuff they discussed during Sex Education. It was in that moment I realized he was no longer a little boy. When I asked him if talking about Sex Ed was awkward because of the cute girls in class he said, “No….when I think about that I have a deep voice in my head saying “Ohhhh yeah!”
Those same cute girls, probably wearing their Lululemon pants, may also have been the cause for some of his distraction during his freshman year of high school. As is the case with most young men at that age, he struggled to find focus and motivation for school work that first year. But all it took was a sit down conversation at the dinner table, a list of possible college choices and calculations of the grades he needed the rest of his high school years. This list is framed and hangs above his desk keeping him focused on what is ahead.
In all honesty, I cannot say whether he’s still distracted by girls in Lululemon pants. These days, he is as silent as a monk when it comes to discussing girls with his mom.
I will say….any girl would be lucky to date a guy who hugs his mom every night before bed. Any girl would be lucky to have a guy who thanks his mom for dinner even when it’s his least favorite meal (rosemary chicken.) Any coach is lucky to have this young man on his team who tries hard, is respectful, responsible and always has a great attitude. Any college will be lucky to have my son on their campus who believes in kindness, generosity, gratitude and always giving a solid effort.
So yes, when I think of the young man I have raised, I do believe I have done enough. He is amazing. Whatever he does, wherever he goes, the world is a better place because of him.
I would give anything to travel back in time to his first grade year and relive every single moment all over again.
Whether or not he is ready for the world, I may not be ready to let him go.