Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Mom, I Blew My Head!"

Our youngest son, Charles, is almost 15 years old. He is a freshman in high school - the same high school I graduated from, I might add. First period starts at 7:05 a.m., and he leaves the house to walk only a block to school while it's still dark.

In an attempt to encourage more independent behavior, no one gets up with him in the morning. Those of you who know me aren't surprised that I don't get up at 6:15 a.m. - as I've said in the past to my "morning glory" friends, it's just plain wrong. All I know is that when I wake up, he's out the door and already halfway through first period. And that's a good thing.

High school is quite different than middle school was for Charles (and I would suspect most kids). The expectations have easily tripled and opportunities for activity abound. Finding a way to get it all done is the challenge of each day. There's a lot of information for him to keep in his head, and since he isn't in the habit of writing down what he needs to do (what would I do without my day planner?), he often "forgets" things.

My fear is that he'll forget to wake up in the morning!

Turns out, that's not worth worrying about. He gets himself to school on time each day - in fact, recently he got there early.

He swears his alarm clock said 6:40 a.m. He panicked when he realized he only had a few minutes to get out the door and to school. He got up, made his bed (yes, my teenage son makes his bed), downed a breakfast shake, brushed his teeth (yes, he even brushes his teeth), turned out the lights in the house, grabbed his backpack, and locked the front door on his way to meet his friends on the corner.

Boy, was it dark outside - darker than usual.

And his friends weren't at the corner.

"I think I saw a '3' on my clock," he later told me.

It was 3:50 a.m.!! And my son stood outside alone on a very dark corner waiting for friends who were still slumbering.

Thankfully, he came right back into the house, and went back to sleep (wish I could do that). He woke up on time a couple of hours later and still managed to get out the door and to school without waking anyone.

"I just blew my head," he said. "I don't know what I was thinking."

He wasn't thinking. Usually, that would annoy the heck out of me. But I realized something substantial. He was acting out of habit. He did everything he was supposed to do - just 3 hours earlier than he should. As frightful as it was for me to find out that he was outside alone at that time of the morning, I was incredibly proud of how he responded to his "error."

He's not perfect. He's going to make mistakes, forget his homework, get up at the wrong time, and "blow his head." His dad and I are more concerned with how he reacts to those mistakes. Willingly admitting your mistake is something we should all aspire to do.

We encouraged him to examine what he could do differently to avoid this particular mistake. I was just grateful he didn't say, "Get up early with me, Mom."

Smart kid.