Friday, July 12, 2013

Boiled Water

Today, one of my teenagers was having a hard day.  One of THOSE sorts of days.  He also was making a late lunch of macaroni and cheese.  He'd set up a pot and started the water, but not before engaging in a bit of sniping at two different siblings, reducing both to tears and making his mother quite annoyed. 

Talking now seldom generates any response worth noting.  I've shown him scripture as a means of illustrating that this problem of needing to have a well trained tongue is something people have struggled with since the beginning.  I've tried separating him, giving back exactly what is given, (that fails majorly), and promises of major chores or punishment for continued backtalk and insults of his siblings.  Yet I know within him is a reverent soul, a generous soul, the first to give to the homeless, to buy a treat for his younger sister.  He's also the most prayerful I've ever seen serve mass, a man with great humor is growing within, he just is as of yet, not fully capable of regulating his thoughts, his words or his deeds.  He is disciplined, he is quiet, he is loud, he is silly, he is competitive, he is courageous, he is a loner who is lonely.  It is a delicate and difficult process, this raising a human being to become a man.  I know his many fine qualities and I know his faults and regrettably, sometimes in the course of parenting, he reveals mine.

After he stormed off insisting on the discussion staying only on the particular incident whereas I was seeking to get him to see a larger pattern, I noticed his pot was boiling over.  I added a dash of salt and then the pasta and set the timer and waited for him to return.   A fleeting prayer not to lose my temper caused me to visualize dashing all my frustrations and even seemingly righteous wrath at his callous responses to me and MY children at Christ's nailed feet.  I knew I was part of the problem, I wasn't quite yet ready to own it.  I too wanted to point to the particulars when Christ was pointing to the larger pattern. 

"Thanks for starting my lunch." he said. It was a teen version of an apology and I knew it. 
"You're welcome.  You know, sometimes, a little thing can cause something bigger to boil over.  It just takes the right amount of heat." 

He nodded.  "Are we talking about macaroni and cheese?"

"We could be.  But sometimes it takes a lot of heat and even boiling over to make something that is hard and impossible into something warm and softer." 

We talked about how bad moods are contagious, how they destroy this place, this family, how they prevent the family from being what it should be, a source of hope and health and warmth and comfort, as well as structure, discipline, guidance and patience.  Bad moods and insults tear down the place, the people that should be your source of hearth and home and love.  No one should have to be on guard in their own house against a barbed tongue or a wrathful spirit, not from a parent or a child, and being a teen or a parent of a teen is not an excuse.  I needed to become softer too. 

He nodded again as I handed him his lunch.  "I love you son."  "Sorry Mom."  and he sat down to eat.  

I can only become softer and warmer by being thrown in the hot water with a touch of salt. Mental note to keep pasta in the house until adolescence passes over, and maybe learn not to be so stubborn and stiff necked myself too. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved this! I can so identify with the frustrations of parenting/being parented and those teenage years.

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