Today we celebrated Justin’s graduation from high school. I wish I had been better about chronicling this year, but most of the time I was living it instead of writing about it. Or maybe I just didn’t know what to say. So, here is the biggest thing I learned this year: Letting my son work out his own decisions means he’ll own those decisions more. We were always there to talk through aspects of different decisions that he might not have thought through thoroughly, but ultimately, he needed to make his own choices.
I wouldn’t have chosen for him to have a girlfriend—especially one 5 years older than he—during high school, but he thought otherwise, and so Steph came into our lives. Because I have a heart for 20-something girls, I embraced Steph as someone I could pour into spiritually. We have had long talks many times, text frequently and have lunch together every so often. I treat her like a daughter and love it when she seeks my advice. His choice; our support.
I wouldn’t have chosen for him to work split shifts at 2 different Chick-fil-A restaurants while still going to school, but he wanted the challenge (and the money) and so he did it for a couple of weeks. I was concerned about how little sleep he was going to get. He said he hadn’t crashed and burned yet. I said it was only a matter of time. He said, Nah. He did it and he survived. But I think he learned that he didn’t really want to do that again.
I didn’t like the idea that he only had 2 classes on his campus, and a couple on the local community college campus through the dual enrollment program. That left him with a lot of time in the mornings most days, and I wondered if his motivation to attend those few classes would wane over the course of the year. He’s never had as many unexcused absences as he had this year, but still he graduated with better than a 4.0 and a ranking of 10th in his class of 600+. He kept telling me, “Don’t worry about it.” I guess I should have listened.
When he talked of moving out of the house when he turned 18—5 months shy of high-school graduation—I told him he was out of his ever-loving mind. Probably not the best approach. So I backed off and gave him some compelling reasons why he shouldn’t: he wouldn’t have access to the vehicle he’d been driving, and he would lose the college fund we have for him. When he questioned why I would say that, I told him that he was making a foolish financial decision, and I wouldn’t support that. He saw the reason behind that and dropped the idea. Now, all I can do is point out that he would have a hard time making it financially if he moved out and really needs to keep up with school so he can keep his scholarships, but ultimately, the decision to move out when he starts college is his. We’ll see how that one turns out
Some of the dearest words to me this year have been, “That’s a good point.” Yay! I’m glad he listens to us even though he’s independent and likes to beat his own head against the wall. He says he doesn’t like people telling him he isn’t able to do something. He wants to find out for himself. I want to keep him from failing, but I’ve learned failing is probably the only way he’s going to learn.
Just like a toddler saying, “I do it myself!”
And he most often succeeds when he tries.
Congratulations, Justin. I love you to the moon!