Every now and then the stars align and I find myself in the car all by my lonesome. The unfamiliar glory of freedom goes to my head and I consider driving to Montana for the day. I opt for the grocery store instead, which was the plan in the first place, but the sudden ability to have real, actual thoughts (!!) is almost as good as that dreamy road trip to the Midwest. Anyhoo, during these little rides by myself I sometimes turn on talk radio or NPR to see if I can learn something.
This week, I learned a few things that technically I already knew, but suddenly hit me in a different way now that I have two small cheddar-bunny-eating people in my charge. News reports on the total insanity known as Spring Break, which happened a few weeks ago in Florida, caught my attention. And it occurred to me as I listened to the description of what was taking place on the sandy beaches of our bordering state, that, as a parent, I would really, really, really like to shut that stuff down. Way down. I realize that I am at risk of sounding rather old and out-of-touch right now. Prepare yourself, because I'm also probably going to use the phrase "young people these days" any minute.
I've also tuned in to a few radio shows lately discussing the rampant assaults, hazing and generally disturbing behavior that happens on college campuses and I'm starting to think that home-school college should be a thing. I had a fantastic, drug-free, drunk-free, bad-boyfriend-free, crazy-free college experience, but that's been a ninth-grader's life span ago and things have changed a bit since I moved my tassel over. I'm pretty sure iPhones, social media, tweets, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. have absolutely changed the game since I had exactly 100 minutes on my "car" phone (which also came with it's own handy zip-up bag.)
In light of all the information out there on what the "young people" are getting into these days, I have come to something of a conclusion. I think the key to modern parenting just might be summed up by two words: happy nerds.
What's a happy nerd? Essentially, I'd define a happy nerd as a kid who doesn't care too much about what other kids think about them, who likes to learn stuff, who feels pretty confident about who they are, and who isn't spending 3/4 of their lives developing carpal tunnel due to excessive texting. A happy nerd is interested in exploring a new idea or solving a problem or creating something unique rather than spending the afternoon taking questionable selfies of themselves and then dumping all that jazz on to Twitter or Snapchat for other similarly-minded teenagers to comment on.
A happy nerd would rather be spending his or her time discovering something about the world or engaging someone in actual conversation or reading a book that stimulates their imagination or expands their understanding on some interesting topic rather than hanging out at the mall and not shopping.
Do happy nerds have friends? Yes. Just not the kind that invite them to parties in their parents' basement and then ply them with cheap alcohol so they can video them jumping off the roof into a pool. Do happy nerds fall in love? Yes. But, they get to know one another by spending quality (key word) time together and conversation, rather than just texting TMZ-worthy pictures of themselves to each other late at night.
Am I being a tad bit dramatic/unrealistic/naive? Yes. Do I want my son to grow up to be a semi-introverted inventor/engineer? Sort of. Do I hope that my daughter chooses to be a librarian when she graduates homeschool college? Absolutely. Are either of these things going to happen? Probably not.
BUT, I still stand by my happy nerd theory. At the end of the day, I want to raise children who value the things that matter and recognize and avoid the stuff that will resurface on Facebook twenty years from now and keep them from getting a real job. I'm having a moment where I'm realizing my little people won't be little forever and it's making me feel the tiniest bit nervous about who and what they will become. And I absolutely get that, at some point, their choices will be their own and I won't be able to take responsibility for them.
I know that I can't control what paths my children take, but it is HARD for this mama-heart to not want to navigate every step they take and make wise choices for them and absorb all the inevitable heartaches they'll weather. This parenting thing is such a high-wire balance of truth and love, control and freedom, holding on and letting go, acting and waiting, fearfulness and trust. Whoever said motherhood was not for the faint of heart was the Captain Of Obvious Statements.
|Red socks go with everything.|
And, so I slip into their rooms at night, long after they've drifted into dreamland and I whisper prayers over their sweet little selves. I'm hoping that they can simply trust and obey and avoid having to learn things the hard way. But, whether they have to fall and get up a thousand times or they turn out to be miraculously obedient, I have to keep reminding myself that they belong to Jesus.
And He doesn't let anything or anyone that belongs to Him slip out of His sight or His hand.
Jesus loves me this I know,
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.