Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Adult Education

When we decided to become dorm parents three years ago, I knew we had a lot to learn - a lot to learn. Zaya was only five months old, and although I didn't know it yet, he was going to be joined by baby sister Mim in one year. I had never really taken care of teenagers, and certainly never planned to do so. Like everyone on planet Earth, we learned a few lessons from what we did right, and many, many lessons from what we did wrong.

I learned, first, that you can't trust teenagers, and you just have to trust teenagers sometimes. If that sounds contradictory, it's because it is, and it was. Every time something happened, my naturally cynical nature prepared for the worst, or at least a lie about the worst, and time after time I found that I had misjudged my boys. They really weren't as bad as I kept expecting them to be. Yet...in the later years they told me stories that would make any mommy's blood curdle. Things they had done when all the innocent world was asleep.

I learned very quickly that teenage boys are a bit like toddlers. It's best if you don't leave temptations around the house. Aerosol cans, for instance, are not a good idea, no matter how innocent their intended use. Deoderant spray, air freshener, you name, they lit it. They told me (much later) about spraying themselves with aerosol products, and then lighting them on fire to see if they would burn away before it got to their flesh. And these really were intelligent boys, for the most part. Any access to fire, of course, was prohibited, but that was a losing battle from day one. Hard fought, I promise you, but losing, nonetheless.

I suppose the most important thing I learned during these last three years was about love. It was the love of a parent, for children who weren't even mine. Of course, there were some who tried my patience more than others. There were some I was, honestly, not sorry to see go. But there were quite a few that I found myself defending and excusing before their accusers, just as I would my own toddlers. I learned that the most amazing things can happen when you let God take your life and use it, even if the use involves trying to keep teenage guys happy, alive, clean and devoted to God.

I know that leaving was the right thing to do, and I love being able to devote my time and energy to my own two law-benders, but I miss the opportunites and relationships we had. I hope the new dorm parents have as much fun as we did.

If you're interested, visit the September Write-Away contest at Scribbit.


Scribbit said...

That will be an experience you'll remember your whole lives.

Qtpies7 said...

I am just amazed at doing that. I can barely tolerate my own teens, I definately do not want someone else's teens! Not that they are not fun, but they are also extremely trying and painful and heartbreaking.
I'm glad someone can handle it, though, I'll take the babies, please!

aftergrace said...

Now that you have lived through the "teenage" experience, you will more than prepared when your own become teenagers.

JAM said...

I've never been in that situation, but I remember all of my school teachers for different reasons and love to reminisce about them.

I'm sure in years to come those boys will remember you guy's too, very affectionatley.