“Pause” Series Parent Cue

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We are talking with your teenager about pausing and realizing that God is always with him or her. But don’t you wish sometimes you could hit a “pause” button and breathe? As a parent of a teenager, life is crazy. There’s always something going on, isn’t there? Life seems to move so quickly. In fact, sometimes, don’t you wish you could hit a “pause” button on your teenager? They grow up so fast.

It seemed so much easier to connect with him when he was younger. It seemed like you had so much more in common with her when she was younger. And you knew where you stood with your son or daughter then. They would light up when you walked in the room. They would eagerly greet you at the door when you came home. Now you’re not even sure he or she wants you around. You’re not alone. Every parent of a teen feels that way. But guess what? As much as it may not feel like it, they do still want you around.

Maybe this story will inspire you, and maybe it will help you pause, see that glimpse into your teen’s life and realize that he or she still needs you too.

NOT INVITED

By Bob Welch

I was sitting in a bathtub full of moldy sheetrock when my thirteen-year-old son asked the question. “Can you take me golfing sometime?” he said.

I had a bathroom to remodel. It was fall, and the forecast for the next week was a one-hundred percent chance of Oregon’s liquid sunshine. I wanted to say no. “Sure,” I said. “What did you have in mind?”

“Well, maybe you could, like, pick up Jared and me after school on Friday and take us out to Oakway.”

“Sounds good.”

Friday came. The showers continued. Looking out the window, moldy sheetrock seemed the saner choice. But at the appointed hour, I changed from the home-improvement garb to rain-protection garb and loaded the boys’ clubs and mine in the back of the car. Ryan looked at me with a perplexed expression.

“What’s with the golf hat, Dad?” he said.

It was, I thought, a silly question, like asking a scuba diver what’s with the swim fins.

“Well, I thought we were going to play some golf.”

A peculiar pause ensued, like a phone line temporarily gone dead.

“Uh, you’re going too?” he asked.

Suddenly, it struck me like a three-iron to my gut: I hadn’t been invited.

Thirteen years of parenting flashed before my eyes. The birth. The diapers. The late-night feedings. Helping with homework. Building forts. Fixing bikes. Going to games. Going camping. Going everywhere together—my son and I.

Now I hadn’t been invited. This was it. This was the end of our relationship as I had always known it.

Why did it all have to change?

I needed to level with him. I needed to express how hurt I was. Share my gut-level feelings. Muster all the courage I could find, bite the bullet, and spill my soul.

So I said, “Me? Play? Naw. You know I am up to my ears in the remodel project.”

We drove on in silence for a few moments.

“So, how are you planning to pay for this?” I asked, my wounded ego reaching for the dagger.

“Uh, could you loan me seven dollars?”

Oh, I get it. He doesn’t want me, but he’ll gladly take my money.

“No problem,” I said.

I dropped him and Jared off, wished them luck and headed for home. My son was on his own now. Nobody there to tell him how to fade a five-iron, how to play the tricky downhiller, how to hit the sand shot. And what if there’s lightning? A runaway golf cart? A band of militant gophers?

There I was, driving away for now. Not just for now. Forever. This was it. The bond was broken. Life would never be the same.

I walked in the door. “What are you doing home?” my wife asked.

I knew it would sound like some kid who was the only one in the gang not invited to the slumber party, but maintaining my immature demeanor, I said it anyway.

“I wasn’t invited,” I replied, with a trace of snottiness.

Another one of those peculiar pauses ensued. Then my wife laughed. Out loud. At first I was hurt. Then I, too, laughed and the situation suddenly became much clearer.

I went back to the bathroom remodel and began realizing that this is what life is all about: change. This is what I’ve been preparing him for since he first looked at me and screamed in terror—not to play golf without me, but to take on the world without me. With his own set of clubs. His own game plan. His own faith.

God was remodeling my son. Adding some space here. Putting in a new feature here. In short, allowing him to become more than he could ever be if I continued to hover over him.

I went back to the bathroom remodel project. A few hours later, I heard Ryan walk in the front door. I heard him complain to his mother that his putts wouldn’t drop, that his drives were slicing and that the course was like a lake. He sounded like someone I knew. His tennis shoes squeaked with water as I heard him walk back to where I was working on the bathroom.

“Dad,” he said, dripping on the floor, “my game stinks. Can you take me golfing sometime? I need some help.”

I wanted to hug him. Rev my radial-arm saw in celebration. Shout: “I’m still needed!” I wanted to tell God, “Thanks for letting me be a part of this kid’s remodel job.”

Instead, I got one of those serious-dad looks on my face and stoically said, “Sure, Ry, anytime.”

(Used by permission. Bob Welch can be reached at www.bobwelch.net.)

© 2010 Orange. All rights reserved.

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