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Friday, April 27, 2012

Lessons From Teenagers


For the past 16 months, I have been a nanny/mother’s helper to two teenage boys. I must admit, it is a cushy job- No diapers to change, no disastrous messes to clean up after and, lucky enough, both boys have hearts of gold with stellar behaviors. The only nuisance I have to deal with every once in a while is to break up the occasional fight over whose turn it is to walk to puppy (to which I often end up taking responsibility for, myself). 
Over the short period I’ve known and cared for these kids, I have seen them take on new challenges and grow through them. I watched as the younger boy graduated from middle school and entered his first year of high school. I observed as his older brother stressed over SATs and college prep, went through hours of driving lessons and, most recently, got his drivers license.  
No doubt, I am grateful for the job I have that supplements my income as I grow my YOUfit brand, but today’s post is about more than the gratitude I have for this part time job. Seeing these boys five days a week for hours each day, I feel like I have become part-time mom to them. This in itself continues to reveal valuable lessons on a daily basis, but today my eyes were opened to something I was told I could never understand until I had children of my own…
The older of the two boys was given instruction and permission by his mother to drive to the store to pick up a birthday cake for his brother. Instinctually, I wanted to ride along with him to make sure he would be okay. Not wanting to insult or undermine his newfound ability to drive, I resisted. My next thought was to discretely follow him with my car, remaining a mile behind, unknownst to him. Again, I resisted.
I took a deep breath and reminded myself that he was a highly cautious teenager. I would not have to worry about his wreckless driving- it was the other nuts on the road I was worried about, after all. As he grabbed the keys and checked for money in his wallet, I found myself demanding his undivided attention as I instructed him to “be careful and make sure to text me as soon as he got back home to let me know he was ok.” At that moment, I recognized my parents’ words coming out of my mouth…
When I first learned to drive, I rolled my eyes every time my dad always sent me off with a reminder to be careful. I brushed off the importance of letting my mom know when I got to the mall okay. I was a typical kid! But, here I was, feeding this teenage boy the same exact parental lines I had scoffed at just years ago. Suddenly, they didn’t seem so laughable.
I got to the gym, where I still am now, and watched the clock. I went to and from the locker room, checking my phone for a text that said I could stop worrying. Thirty minutes passed… nothing. An hour passed… still nothing. Finally, I called him to ease my nerves. Oblivious to my concerns, he casually picked up his phone, thankfully alive. I breathed a sigh of relief, gave him a half hearted scold for not texting me when he got back to the house, hung up and finished my workout. Sure, kids will be kids, but eventually, we all grow up and, hopefully, if we’re lucky, we get the opportunity to see things from the perspectives of our silly, overbearing parents.

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