I always thought I would be the forever teacher. For a long time I was just that. From potty training, to bicycle riding, to learning how to make at least one thing using the stove, I taught them. I taught them out of necessity, out of desperation, and out of love.
Although I think there will always be a role for me in their lives, such as offering guidance when asked and support when needed, there’s really not more left for me to teach. There is, however, a lot for me to learn.
What My Third Child, My Last, is Teaching Me
My third is teaching me that when the baby of the brood says he’s got this. He generally does.
And if I don’t think he does, he’s teaching me that he’s fully prepared to use the universal teenage sign, “I’ve got this mom”, as often as necessary. You know the one; your teenager faces you with his hand in the upright, palm forward position, signaling to you that everything is under control.
My third is teaching me to finally trust my gut and not the parenting books that lay next to my bed for years.
My third is teaching me that parents are not the only family fans. My third is teaching me that he too, can, and will, join me “on the stands” cheering on his teammates, his siblings, as we get the phone calls from them sharing their college experiences.
My third is teaching me to just enjoy this last high school ride, reminding me that I got through SATs, road tests, prom after parties (two previous times before) and we all came out alive.
By independently being where he needs to be, when he needs to be there, my third is teaching me to realize that everybody else’s schedule is no longer my responsibility
My third is teaching me that he’ll go to college. Somewhere. He’s teaching me not to sweat it.
My third is teaching me that teenagers (well at least mine) will never pick up their clothes or put away their folded wash. There’s just no cure for that.
My third is teaching me that he’s got my back and will not gloat to the other two, if I choose to relax the rules, on the minor things, when it comes to him. My third is teaching me that rules can sometimes be broken with patient persistence, and a sweet smile. My third is teaching me that it’s easier to break rules with your last when you are a tired, but a much more confident, mom.
My third is teaching me to let go of my worry about how much he sleeps. My third is teaching me something I already know – that teenagers either sleep 5 hours or 15 and there is simply nothing in between.
My third is teaching me that it’s good to get a whole host of opinions on important decisions and that my opinion is not the only one that matters. What his siblings think matters too.
My third is teaching me that selling a kidney to pay the food bill may be my only option, especially since he knows full well that the refrigerator will not be his sole commodity anymore. Well, at least not this summer. He’s teaching me to not be afraid of the food bill because he’s way more afraid than me. He knows full well that he will soon have to share the food with those other teenagers, again.
My third is teaching me to look around and notice that he did listen, for the most part, did learn a few things along the way, and did relish the unique benefits of being at the bottom of the food chain.
My third is teaching me that his hair appointment is equally important as his sister’s. My third is teaching me that boys don’t go to the barbershop anymore. He’s teaching me that boy haircuts have been totally re-branded!
My third is teaching me to recognize that he and his siblings do remember all the fun day trips and family excursions, sometimes even in vivid detail. He’s teaching me to not worry about the family remembering all the fun times we had before anyone drove or went out on a Friday night. He’s teaching me that the memories are accounted for and are just resting in the head and the heart, but ready to be pulled out on a moment’s notice.
My third is teaching me to accept the fact that he and his siblings possess the skills to go and plan things on their own, from surprise gifts to excursions. He is teaching me that they can do this – without my help.
My third is basically teaching me to breathe. Finally.
My third is also teaching me to just let go. Reluctantly. It will take an entire class to learn this lesson and it’s a lesson I would prefer to leave, unlearned.
So as he continues to teach me in the limited time we have before he ends up moving on to his next chapter, I’ll try and be a good student. I’ll try to keep learning, just like I expected of him and his siblings when I was the teacher for so many years.
And, while I do that, I’ll never stop wondering how my third suddenly became the kid who knew it all. I’ll never stop wondering how he became the teacher.
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Marlene Markoe-Boyd is always looking for a new friend, a good laugh, a shared moment, and a treasured story. Helplessly in love with her family (hubbie and three teenagers). But if you asked them, they would say her heart truly belongs to her new four-legged (never talks back, asks for money, or wants the car keys) love, named Chandler Boyd.