how I am

"Hi, how are you?"

"I'm fine... and you?"

"Just fine, thanks."

Most of us have this exchange every day, several times a day. Most of us also understand that this exchange is only meant to be a general pleasantry, rather than an invitation to regurgitate the minutia of our lives all over the poor soul who was trying to be polite. We all know people who do not understand this, do we not? You know, the folks who have no problem launching into a 45-minute blow-by-blow of their border collie's recent bowel obstruction surgery... or the altercation they had with the Costco cashier over a pallet of toilet paper.

ANYWAY... to the actual point of my post.

I understand that when people inquire as to my well being, the appropriate response is to smile, stifle the gory details, say "fine" and go on my merry way. However, until further notice, I would like to respond by saying:

"I have a son in eighth grade. How are you?"

This is the most accurate summary of my general state of mind at this point in my life... so it seems to be the most appropriate response.

This new response is not based on a desire to expound... I'm not interested in broadsiding my family, friends and the lady who waters the plant in my office once a month by prattling on about the particulars. And I don't need to, do I? Think about it. If this is what I actually said to people, they would either:

  1. Say "Oh... yeah... eighth grade..." and then blankly stare off into space
  2. Cringe and back away as if I just pinched them with a pair of hot pliers
  3. Offer their condolences and, two days later, bring me a casserole

You know why? Because everyone has an eighth-grader, had an eighth-grader or has been an eighth-grader. We all know. We all remember. And we all would throw ourselves into the nearest active volcano if we ever had to do it over again. Right?


I've decided that trudging through the eighth grade myself was a hell of a lot easier than watching it dump all over the person I love most in the world.

Now... before his grandmothers start panicking and calling our house, let me just say that Tyler is doing fantastic under the circumstances (the circumstances being the hormone-saturated, drama-infested psychotic Land of Adolescence). He's got all A's and B's in school, he's playing football, he has lots of friends, and he is serving as the Deacon's Quorum president. He is a handsome young man with a cute sense of humor and a good heart... and I. AM. SUPER. LUCKY. Luckier than I deserve to be.


We do have our moments... and when we do, the reality of the situation slams me upside the head... and the blood rushes to the surface, and... well... dammit, it just hurts.

I'm sad that I am no longer the primary influence in my child's life... and sometimes I'm scared about who has taken my place.

I'm forever curious about what he's thinking... what makes him happy, what makes him sad, what makes him worry... but I stifle my urge to interrogate, because I remember how much I hated it when my mom did that to me.

I'm always unsure about whether I'm giving him too much space and privacy... I am always, ALWAYS questioning whether or not we're balancing that correctly.

I hate that we go through times when I can't trust him completely, and not because he's evil or manipulative -- but because he's a 14-year-old Human of The Male Persuasion. This model comes complete with a deluxe set of perils and pitfalls, which means there are times when I have to step in and exercise good judgment when he has misplaced his own. ("Ty, did you leave your Good Judgment in your locker again?!") He doesn't like that at all, which I totally understand. And I totally don't care. When I have to choose between loving him and trusting him, I will choose loving him EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

I'm always worried that he won't emerge on the other side unscathed... because I know he won't. We've all taken our share of beatings in the Land of Adolescence, and Tyler will be no exception -- and I'm more or less relegated to a spectator in the crowd, watching the brawls as they come along.

I know that if he is ever going to learn to stand on his own he has to do it on his own steam, armed with his God-given abilities and the principles and values we've taught him. This realization makes me anxious, but not because I doubt his inherent knight-in-shining-armorness. It's because, on any given day, I honestly don't know if I've done everything I can to ensure that his armor will hold. Some days I smile and pat myself on the back. Some days I cry and know that I have failed him. Every day I pray that the best I can do will be enough.

So... if it's been a while since we've chatted or we haven't run into each other lately, and you're wondering how I am?

I'm just fine, thanks. :)


SUZANNE said...

Make sure you answer your door tonight. I'm bringing you a casserole. Love ya!!

A Dunn Deal said...

Oh man. Said perfectly. Mine is only 2 but i skip steps and it's to Jr. High that freaks me out the most. Thanks for reiterating why.