Something no one told me to expect parenting high-schoolers is how much they might change. I felt I had a good grasp on who my kids were – their personalities, strengths, weaknesses. I knew they would grow into their own people, but I had no idea they could innately change so much. I have to look deeply to see the things I used to see. I don’t know why that is…maybe it’s such a time of self-discovery, so impacted by people other than family that insecurity and lack of surety overwhelm those solid traits you used to be able to count on.
Big Man has been a little easier through this process. Oh, he’s seriously given us a run. I know I’ve looked at him with that dazed, WTH look on my face fairly frequently the last year or so, but I don’t have to look too hard or too far to see that loving, empathetic, quirky, witty, intelligent boy he’s always been. His hugs are still the same. But we did have to tap into a new vein for what drives him. Spouse called him a honey-badger….you know, honey badgers don’t care. Big Man is easy, accepting, open. He may seem shy on the surface, but he’s well-liked, because he’s easy, doesn’t judge, seems to want everyone around him to be happy and will go out of his way to make it so. He still seems to have the ability to walk into a room expecting everyone to like him, and finding that they do.
The Princess……this hasn’t been as easy a process. I’ve been watching her dance competition videos from last year the last few days, tears forming as I see the joy on her face, the fierceness in her eyes. I see a brave, bold, strong girl with the most amazing smile, and such beautiful skill. I ache, because she seems to have lost her mojo. I don’t know what drives her. I feel she’s seeing all her own weaknesses, but isn’t giving herself any credit at all for her unique strengths. It seems she sees how and what she lacks, rather than all she’s capable of. She seems to be comparing herself, and finding herself lacking or falling behind, not good enough. This is killing me to watch. But if I look back on high school, I recall facing many of the same issues. Watching her, I’m reminded why you couldn’t pay me enough money to go back and do high school all over again. I used to know what she wanted, what her goals were, who she was. Now, those seem to change on a weekly basis. I know I have a blank look much of the time, sit here silently trying to figure her out all over again, re-learn who she is. I want my brave, bold girl back.
I logically know this is part of the process of growing up. No one told me I would feel their growing pains just as much as they do. I’m doing my best to gently guide, while accepting their choices. I’ll keep looking for those glimpses of the children I used to know, while I figure out who they are becoming, and just keep loving them.