Surviving Seventeen

My seventeen year old son is graduating from high school this year. It’s a big milestone by anybody’s standards. In a few months he will turn 18 and will legally be an adult. He is interested in video game design (we think) and has applied to a local university with a good 3D Animation program. He has his drivers license and a steady girlfriend. No worries right? You would think so. So why do I feel this anxiety about what is going on in his life? Why do I feel the need to push him in a more productive direction?

In the grand scheme of things he has never been a problem. I’m proud to say that he has made it to grade twelve and there are no drugs or alcohol involved, no classes failed and nobody is pregnant. Woohoo! Honestly, in today’s high school environment that is no small feat. He does, however, spend (in my mind) an inordinate amount of time playing on-line video games. Some days he gets out of bed, comes downstairs and is on the computer for a couple of hours before he even stops to have something to eat. If it were not for me giving him the stink eye he would be on-line all day.

I’m sure he will get into university and pretty certain he could get a job if he tried. This is not what keeps me up at night. My husband (his stepdad) and I have made every effort to help him make decisions about his future. Taken him to interviews, open houses and forwarded him information on deadlines and programs. He’s interested in it all but once we are out of the parking lot the need to think about it is gone. The need for attention and follow up just doesn’t seem to be sinking in. Or maybe it is. Why do seventeen year olds not come with cheat sheets like the video games they love so much?

What was I doing at seventeen? I thought that I wanted to go into the hotel and restaurant business. A family friend of ours managed to get me job at the Banff Springs Hotel. I worked there for a couple of years on and off with a year of very unproductive university in the middle. Oh, then I went to Europe for four months. Wow, by that time I was 21 and no closer to having any idea what I was going to do with my life. It wasn’t until I had worked for a couple of years at dead end jobs and then finished two years at BCIT that I realized what I was capable of and what I wanted to do. I was twenty five! So I guess my son has a few years to go before I really need to kick his ass. I hope he doesn’t read this.

So what to do? I do what I do every time this feeling overcomes me. I go to my “in” box and retrieve a piece of paper. On that paper is this saying.

“My prime job as a parent is to see my children not as who I want them to be or who I hope they become, but who they really are.”

Enjoy your kids for who they are. They are one of the best things in life.

Last night I emailed this to my son. I didn’t want to put it out for the world to see if he wasn’t okay with it. Later today I will post his response.  It took me completely by surprise.

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