Parenting a teen results in some weird moments of role reversal. I’ve spent 15.5 years being a mother and have gotten pretty comfortable with how the process works. My son falls down, asks for ice and a kiss. I bake cookies, and we snuggle until he feels better.
That strategy went out the window quite a while ago, but I didn’t really understand just how far past it we’d gone until this weekend.
Lately I’ve had a bit of a musical crisis of confidence. Historically, I’ve been a very instinctive player–sort of seat-of-the-pants. Twenty-one months of intensive study, while initially a revelation, shifted into an unhealthy fixation on my lack of technique.
I’ve been preparing for a recital and things weren’t going well. The music is not beyond my reach. This did not stop me from becoming a hot mess over the whole prospect. My group had a coaching session, a rehearsal of sorts this weekend. While practicing the evening prior, I hurled around a few choice expletives. It wasn’t going to be pretty.
I came downstairs and my son greeted me.
“I heard you, you know,” he said. I know he’s heard these words already. I’ve heard him gaming late at night. He just hasn’t heard them from me.
“Moms curse too. We just don’t get grounded for it.”
“Not that,” he counters, you idiot implied by his tone. “You shouldn’t worry so much. You’re very good.”
He’s very sweet, I think, but I’m not ready to agree. “I’m not that good these days. I need more time to prepare, but I don’t have it.” I didn’t have any more practice time before the coaching session. I feared it would be excruciating.
“You know, when I have a test, and I’ve got all of this stuff to do, sometimes, the test I study for the least is where I do the best.” Unsolicited advice is usually my responsibility. I don’t remember giving him permission to join in the fun. “I can’t overthink it. I just do it, and you will too.”
He hugged me. His chin rested on my head. He’s grown again. At least another inch. We both let go in surprise.
He looks sheepish. “Okay. That was really weird.”
I have to agree. “Uhm. Yeah.” He has no idea. “That’s not bad advice, you know.”
“Anytime. I’m full of it.”
Thank you, thank you. “That much, I know.” He gives me the look. Order in the universe is restored. Sort of. His room is still a disaster. We can only handle so much change at once.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Redjar © 2011 Creative Commons