At a quarter till seven, while packing lunches, I try not to notice the multicolored blur of something that that just passed by me. It’s Sky. He’s dressed in the outfit I hate most on the planet: a tie-dye shirt and Khaki cut-off’s. Yes, cut off’s- they were too long, so instead of choosing to send them to the alterations chick, he cut them himself. I stand in shock while staring at him. “What the hell is this!?” Are you kidding me right now? “Ummmm, what happened to your pants? Didn’t I just buy those for you!?”
He hesitates. Takes a long swig from a bottle of water. After washing down his ADHD meds, he shoots a sly, Jim Carey smile in my direction. “Yep, I cut ’em. I don’t like them long and I didn’t feel like rolling ’em up today, so I just cut them off!” I just stand there speechless. I shouldn’t be shocked by this kid… some of the things he does… Lord!!! By the way, did I mention he refuses to cut his hair- so in addition to the attire choices, I’m looking at a hairdo that was popular back in the late 70’s!! It’s hideous to me, but my son thinks it’s the greatest things ever. Ever!
As I stand in awe at the sight before me, (not a good kind of awe), my daily mantra quietly takes control before I lose it,
“he’s not smoking dope; he’s not drinking alcohol; he’s making good grades; he has good friends… It’s hair and clothes Amy, it’s just hair and clothes… Let it go.” (Repeat a couple more times or as needed).
My Skyman. A fifteen year-old creative, eclectic, don’t-give-a-rip kinda kid. Has his own unique style, fashion ideas and perspectives. He embraces life. Laughs constantly. He’s white as all get out, but has a comedy routine that includes his split personality named Sheniqua. She is an imaginary woman who lives inside Sky and comes out when we least expect it. She uses lots of hand, hip and neck movement too. The problem we have with Sheniqua is that she’s hilarious at the most inappropriate times! She comes around when I’m either trying to discipline Sky or his little sister or I’m busy and can’t deal with distractions- yet, I find myself paralyzed by the laughter and joy she brings to life’s situations.
Sky is a naturally funny, non wanna-be comedian, but possesses contagious laughter and joy. He has learned to make light of heavier situations, laugh at people who are jerks and he has fallen comfortably into who he was created to be, not whom others say he should be. It’s actually a beautiful sight- ya know, watching someone come into who they were created to be, rather than watching them strive to be something they’re not or never will be.
This kid…. my joy (sigh).
We all want to see our kids do well, be liked and loved by peers, be accepted, accomplish big goals and yes, look handsome, hip or cool. We’d be lying if we said otherwise. Everyone, no matter what age we are- strives for this to some degree or another.
Over the past year, I have watched my son walk into a new comfort zone- a comfort he never really knew before. It’s not always been this way. The past several years have been tough for Sky. Like a lot of kids, he went through a rough spot, socially and has since matured. He’s learned to look at life and decide what issues are really worth fighting for and which ones should be walked away from. He has made a lot of mistakes, taken ownership and learned from them. He knows right from wrong and lives by strong convictions, yet he’s still himself.
He laughs out loud, he’s not afraid to be silly, stupid or love the stuff he loves, even if no one else does! Like, Sky loves to scooter. He will spend hours scootering, filming other kids scootering and then making editing clips to create videos. Some kids who see this say, “dude, you’re so gay with your stupid scootering.” He shakes his head and shouts back, “Screw you! I like scootering and I don’t give a rip what you think!” Love it. I love that he is happy with himself and confident and doesn’t care about the rude criticism of others.
A recent conversation with Sky and his buddies…. Over dinner one night, all three of his friends described their long term goals and college aspirations to my husband and me. When it came to Sky’s turn to share, he says, “well look guys, I like filming and editing and catching cool stuff on film. I think I just wanna be workin’ for Red Bull shooting their extreme sport commercials.” Everyone smiled and said, “yea, right on Sky… that’s just Sky!” I ‘m not sure if that goal might include a university specializing in film, but at least the kid has goals and dreams! Unlike a lot of kids his age (and adults alike) Sky is comfortable in his own skin, not afraid to go against the grain.
I hate to rehash the song I despise most on the planet, but we really need to “let it go.” It’s okay that your toddler isn’t in preschool and learning all her colors and numbers, but your friends kids are! It’s okay that your kid wants to join hip-hop dance when everyone else is joining baseball. So what if she didn’t apply to law schools- maybe that was YOUR dream, NOT hers. It’s okay that your kid wasn’t the starting football player this season. If she didn’t make the tennis team, it’s not the end of the world! And if he doesn’t want to go to college, that’s OKAY!! In the big picture of life we have to let it go.
As parents, we are given (by God) a few important tasks in life: Love unconditionally, morally lead by example, spiritually guide, properly educate and strategically position our children. What we invest in them now, while they are young, will in the long run, prove to be profitable to them (and the ones connected to them) in life. But being aware of that “fine line” is crucial. I want to find the balance here. I want to position him for success so he can walk into the fullness of what God has for him, not what I think he needs. As he is learning from him mistakes, weaknesses are becoming strengths and he is becoming more and more of who he was created to be, I have got step back and let go of my expectations. I can hope. I can guide and I can encourage. But don’t be a control freak. Let it go.
So this morning, while I stare at my teenager who is waving his hands and demanding that we all address him as Sheniqua, I stand in amazement. “So Mom, I know you don’t like my outfit, so I’m gonna tone it down a little but for ya…” He then slips on (over the bright tie-dye shirt) his Long Beach flea market find- a 1980’s Wranglers blue jean jacket. While driving to the school, I again repeat my mantra quietly to myself. I also remind myself that this young man WILL accomplish great things someday. So while I wait on the someday to arrive, I will enjoy nurturing the gifts, talents and abilities of this unique soul. He has one thing going on for sure…. confidence in just being himself. He hops outta the car with a smile on his face and shouts, “later babe!”
If we could all walk in that same confidence, the world just might be a happier place.