Saturday, March 10, 2012

What's So Special About 17?

Carter celebrated his 17th birthday this week, but according to him, 17 is nothing special.  No big deal.  It’s not 16, it’s not 18, it’s just kinda whatever.

I disagree.  Vigorously.  For me, 17 is momentous.

First of all, as Carter himself said to me few months ago, “Look, Mom, I’m not smart yet, but my stupidity is on the decline.”

Thank you, Jesus.  And please don't take offense, because that’s not blasphemy.  That’s genuine gratitude.  Maybe not every mom would consider herself blessed to have a child with “declining stupidity,” but since I live with two – count ‘em, two – hormonal, impulsive, illogical, unpredictable teenagers, “declining stupidity” sounds pretty darn good.   Particularly in the face of my own hormonal, impulsive, illogical and unpredictable behavior.

Mostly though, Carter’s 17th birthday reminds me marvel at the man he is becoming.

When he was just a toddler, and I was pregnant with Julia, a friend remarked, “I am SO glad you’re having another baby!”  Then, she shared this insight, “Now you’ll realize that you don’t get to take all the credit for what your child is or does.  And you don’t have to take all the blame, either.  They are who they are.  They just come out that way.”

They do.  For 17 years, I’ve tried to guide and shape and nurture.  I’ve tried to teach and encourage and motivate.  And I’ve tried to predict.  Lord knows how I’ve tried to predict.  Carter used to devour books:  English would be his favorite subject!  Until he was four, he wouldn’t poke a toe out of bed until I came to get him:  He would never be a risktaker!  He loved whole fruits and vegetables:  He’d never succumb to fast food!

Riiiigggghhhtt.  Or actually, wrong.  Wrong, wrong and wrong.

He's not crazy about English, he's well-acquainted with risk-taking, and more often than not, he'll drive through, rather than drive by, a Chick Fil A.  But I'm awestruck as he makes his way toward becoming the man he chooses to be.  He’s bright and funny and irreverent and opinionated.  He’s mellow and outrageous, devil-may-care and fiercely devoted.  

He just came out that way.  Or, he just chooses to be that way.

Either way, I don’t get to take the credit.  I simply get to appreciate the person he is.

Happy birthday, son.  Being a parent to you at age 17 is something special, indeed.

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