Making grown-up decisions
I was all prepared for it. I thought for sure Christmas morning my son John-Michael would lose his mind when he saw it. Sure, it's not brand new. And its not something that would turn heads on the street. But still, doesn't every 16 year old kid want a car? I mean I would have flipped out, even if it was a hand me down station wagon.
The reaction, though, hurt my feelings a little. Instead of "WOO-HOO cannot wait to drive my car" we got "I do not want to get my license, and don't understand why I need to find a job. After all, I am only 16." A blow to the ego and bank account, since we had gone in debt for a new minivan for Little red to make this happen for my son. It stung.
And that's the way it has been for him for the last 6 months. Don't get me wrong, he is a great kid. Intelligent, polite, and growing up way too fast, there are a ton of typical teenage parent worries that he has spared us. But the last few months have been head scratchers for Tiffany and I.
First he quit football. And I understood why. He wasn't getting any scholarships through the pigskin. He wanted to focus on wrestling, which he did have a knack for, and he also had this new girlfriend. They were spending a lot of time together, and her family began taking him to church. Not something I would normally discourage, but the fact they were Mormon had me asking a lot of questions.
It is a religion I am not terribly familiar with, only knowing the common beliefs associated with the group. But Polygamy and The Branch Davidians had me trying to slow my sons involvement from the start.
As time went by, John continued to attend church, and I told him if, after a year he was still serious about it, I would consent to his baptism into that group. I also asked him to explore other religions, and he assured me he would. I thought it was a good compromise at the time, and still am not sure it's not. But, as he has continued into his sophomore year, more eyebrow raising moments have led me to question whether he was serious about anything except her.
Sometime in the fall semester, he decided not to wrestle anymore either. He had made a half-hearted effort to make work outs and practice, and we told him if he didn't want to participate he needed to let us know and spare us the $250 pay to play fee. He immediately bailed.
Next, he decided to skip a class to spend time with his girlfriend. His grades were already in bad shape, making this an even bigger error in judgement than it seemed. After speaking with her parents, both of them were grounded for a month. Phone, tablet, all activities.
That was a good month, as he seemed to come back to reality. He wasn't always on his phone or playing Clash of Clans on his tablet (his new obsession). He even told Tiffany and I that he didn't want to go to Mormon Church anymore because he didn't believe what they did. I told him I thought it was just because her Dad was mad at him.
I was right. As soon as the grounding was over, everything went back to where it was. And we went through this car debacle at Christmas, which led us to today.
He asked me this evening if I meant what I said about his Baptism into the Mormon Church. I told him I am glad he has a faith, and allowed him to read the blog post from earlier. Then I had to have a grown up conversation with my son.
I expressed to him that I thought he had made some pretty immature decisions in the last year. I told him that bothers me since he now wants me to let him make his own very mature decision about becoming Mormon. I explained that being baptized is a very serious step, and something that shouldn't be done because of a girl or for any other reason other than a belief that the religious doctrine of that group is the divine Word of God. I told him if he believes that, then I would not tell him nt. But I also told him that before I would give my blessing, he has to show me he is capable of making other adult decisions, such as getting a job and a drivers license. And I told him he needs to go to church with me, when I find a home church, at least twice.
He agreed. And in the moment, it felt good to have had such a grown up conversation with my son. We will see what happens, if he follows through or if his time to be baptized comes around and he is sorely disappointed by the results. As I told him, if you want to make grown up decisions, then you have to show me that you are grown up enough to do so.
Day # 680, still. I could have a lot bigger problems with a teenage son than him not wanting to drive or wanting to be baptized into a religion I do not understand. He is a good kid. They all are. That's another reason it is good to be me.