Being a parent isn’t easy and being a parent of a teenager is something akin to being a climber on Mount Everest. It’s difficult, dangerous and often you need more oxygen but once in a while you just have to sit back and enjoy the view and wonder how you got there. Most often your teens frustrate you but just when you think there is no hope they blindside you with something really good.
Last year Ike set his sights on becoming a District FFA officer. The district banquet was marked on our calendar and the goal of becoming an officer started to take shape. Often it was the topic of conversation at the dinner table or long car rides (the only time teens seem to be able to have conversations with their parents.). It was something he very much wanted and a goal I saw him focus on like nothing I have ever seen him do before.
He spent many hours painstakingly filling out the application and had me look it over. After it was submitted he began to work on his speech with the help of his advisor and student teacher. Soon the elections became the focus of most of his time and energy. Many hours were spent going over his speech and practicing it. By the day of the elections I think I could have given his speech without notecards. When the day finally came he was as ready and, more importantly, as organized for it anything I have ever seen him do. He had really thrown himself into the elections, we were all very excited.
The day came and he, his advisor and a fellow chapter officer also running for district officer left after lunch for the interviews and eventually the banquet and the elections. Jennifer and I left later that afternoon to attend the banquet, on the drive to Sabetha his speech kept running through my mind. I even thought if he lost his place I could shout out the next word, although I was sure that would be frowned upon.
One of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a parent was wait. It is hard to wait for your child to show their animal at the fair, it is hard to wait for their next at bat at a ballgame and it is hard to wait for results of a contest. Finally I couldn’t take the waiting anymore and I sent a text to his advisor. The responding text was not what I wanted to see. He had not made the slate and would not get to give his highly polished speech, needless to say Jennifer and I were very disappointed for him and we wondered how he was doing.
Cautiously I sent a text to his advisor asking how he was doing. The answer came back that he was taking it very well, disappointed but taking it well. Soon, Jennifer got a text from Ike saying he had not made the slate. She sent a message back and asked how he was doing. His reply was that he was OK and disappointed but there was no point in being down about it. Life would go on.
I have often said you can tell more about the character of a person when things don’t go well and when they are disappointed. Ike met us at the door, he was cheerful and once again said while he was disappointed he would be fine and he would focus on his next goal, a state degree. I must say I was awfully proud of him as I watched him interact with his friends from his chapter and from other schools. He was cheerful, encouraging and upbeat; Jennifer and I knew the amount of work and effort he had put into this endeavor and he had every right to be upset, pouty and sulk.
That was one of those moments as a parent when you think, maybe, just maybe we got something right. Just like the mountain climber on Everest it was time to sit on the cliff, let our legs dangle over the side and enjoy the view. After all the much dreaded and highly anticipated senior year is right ahead of us and the climb looks to be straight up. But for right now the view is awesome. Now where is that oxygen.