Tween has often driven me to my knees – sometimes in prayer and sometimes out of sheer exhaustion. I have heard it said that the child you clash with most is the one most like you. That is just not true. Tween is stubborn and willful and goofy. I am not.
Okay, I’m lying. I am those things but aren’t our children supposed to make all our wrongs right and live their lives better than we lived ours?
Tween started middle school this year. Middle school at his particular school means lockers and stricter rules, more responsibility…. and detention. I was so proud of him when he made it through the first week (okay, a half week) without one detention. That meant he had completed all of his homework on time, wore all of the correct uniform pieces (correct shirt, tie on chapel days, belt, pants, brown shoes, etc.), arrived on time to each class, spoke with respect to his teachers and peers and generally followed the plan for the day.
Week two was not as successful. Not one. Not two. Three. Yes, three after-school detentions. A phone call from the Dean about a missing assignment. A note home from his Latin teacher. And on it went for weeks. Half way through the quarter I was at a loss. I worried. I stewed. And then I prayed. I could tell he felt the pain of change, and often made comments about how he would flunk out of school.
Only one day after I started praying for help, the academic dean stopped me in the hallway to let me know about some alterations to help Tween adapt to middle school. It was like a mini IEP (individualized education plan). I was so thankful for God’s answer to prayer.
Fast forward to second quarter. Tween has proven that he can now adapt to the regular middle school pace, so detentions and deadlines are now part of life again. But the most miraculous thing has occurred. In every subject, each teacher has stopped me in the hallway or phoned me to tell me that Tween is engaged and lively and thorough like never before. This has been music to my ears, especially after years of trying to figure out what makes this boy tick.
Last week we got the icing on the cake. Tween won his class geography bee, which meant he went on to the school-wide National Geographic Geography Bee. The morning of the bee, he told us he wanted to lose (a common phrase when he is trying to protect himself from embarrassment). But that day, he sat there with as much confidence as he could muster. There in a room filled with the contestants, their families, fellow students and teachers, Tween made it to the final round along with two eighth grade girls. When the moderator read the final question, I was confident Tween knew the answer because we had studied this particular map only two months ago. I saw my son jot down “Africa.” When it came time to reveal the answers, both eighth grade girls wrote, “South America.”
The correct answer was Africa. If ever there were a proud mother, it was me at that moment. Tween looked at me and his dad and brothers with his sweet grin.
I’m still not completely sure why or how he has made this turnaround. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful that where there was anxiety, there is now peace; where there was anger, there is now joy; and where there was insecurity there is now confidence. Here’s to our National Geographic Geography Bee school champ!