Teenagers struggle for their independence from parents.
They have to.
It’s a rule.
As a parent, I simply had to accept the rule and learn to flex authority only when necessary. I failed at times, of course. On both sides. Fortunately, both Elder and Younger never felt compelled to obliterate the boundaries I had in place.
But, now and then, Elder, in frustration and with teenage arrogance, would demand, “You have to treat me with respect, Mom.”
And I would assure him, “I am, Elder.”
He did not believe me. Until he went to college and listened to some real arguments between his roommate and his father. Then Elder started to glimpse the true meaning of disrespect — on both sides. And I never heard that demand again.
But the other day, Elder called me. “Hey, Mom, I just wanted to say thanks for putting up with me and my writing.”
He was writing an essay. And while doing his own editing and revising, he realized the effort I had applied to that task first in his four years of high school then his last three years of college.
Then last night, he ended a call, “Well, Mom, I’m going to get a sandwich and go home. I’ll talk to you later. You’re the best.”
I knew he was growing up.
He’s taller. His shoulders are broader. His voice is deeper.
And, well, his age keeps climbing.
But, sometimes, I forget he is also getting older.
And maybe, just maybe, wiser.
Because, you know, I’ve always been the best.
He’s just now catching on.