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|Drowning in the Waters of Adolescent Parenting
Hello. I’m drowning over here. Drowning in the waters of adolescent parenting.
At first, the waves lap at your feet. You feel them splash up onto your calves. But there is something about them that is actually refreshing. Sort of like you’ve been sitting stagnant for a long time on the hot sand with the sun beating down on you. Bored with the same landscape and ready for something new to come along. You welcome the teenage years.
As you wade out further, the waves come up a bit higher catching you around the thighs. It’s chilly but your eyes are focused on the horizon ahead of you. You see the bigger waves, but they are much further in the distance. They don’t pose much of a threat right now – you haven’t reached them. At this moment, these waves crashing into you are manageable. So you venture on.
Then that first wave hits your belly. It takes your breath away. You gasp. But then you begin to giggle. Glad that first one is over with. You can begin to acclimate to the temperature now. Not as chilly as before. Boy – it sure seems that the worst part is over.
Then the waters are about chest level. This is where you have choices. Will I allow the waves to push me back with their power? Will I power through the waves? Will I dive head on into the churning white water? Will I attempt to jump them and keep my head above the water while I continue? Everyone’s choice on how to continue is different. It’s all in your own comfort level or how you were taught as a child. I remember the days that my parents stood there holding my hands helping me jump those waves. Allowing me to play in them but protecting me from their intensity and power. I know that this is the most difficult place to be in the surf at this point. I look back at the shallow water where the toddlers play. I look ahead at the calm seas on the other side of the breaking blue ocean. You’ve got to make your choice. Standing where you are will only exhaust you and beat you to death.
Right now I am caught in the tumultuous pounding waves of an extremely strong surf. I guess I didn’t see the red flag posted in the sand warning me of the strong undercurrent and high waves. It didn’t seem as dangerous from the shore. It seemed like something I could handle. Then suddenly I find myself swimming and swimming, yet getting nowhere. I am being sucked further and further out. My arms and legs so tired from trying to get to safety. Doesn’t anyone on the beach see me or are they all enjoying my struggle? Perhaps I’ve made it look like I am in control and it is not clear that I am in peril. I guess the only way that someone will come to rescue me is if I allow them to see that I am in trouble and maybe I even need to say the words, “Please help.”
Sometimes we are able to free ourselves by relaxing and not fighting the current so violently. Allowing our body to find its way naturally. Not showing panic or alarm – having confidence that we can handle this situation by keeping calm and remembering all of those things we’ve been told a thousand times when you come in contact with a rip current.
Regardless, you know there is no turning back. You must get through it. You vow to continue on to reach your destination ahead. After plunging into the breaking waves, you find yourself on the other side. Bobbing up and down in the swells and you roll with the water. Some reach this point and are treading water with nothing to hold onto – they won’t last long. You can only expend that amount of energy for so long before you have to give up and head back in. Others have taken a float out with them. Something to hold onto to feel safe and be able to float on those swells. With a float, it can almost feel like a break. A breather from the waves that you just battled on your way out. A peaceful moment.
I look to my left and I look to my right. The view from where I am leaves my head just above the water. Sometimes taking in a mouthful of it here and there. Sometimes it is intentional and I spit it back out – other times it catches me off guard and I swallow it unwillingly – choking and surprised. I can see the teens sitting on their surfboards. Sitting there patiently waiting to catch the perfect wave. Some sit for long periods of time afraid to take the chance, questioning their readiness. Others are ready to paddle hard eyes set on that wave, determined to catch it, stand and ride it. Some will catch that wave to crash and tumble – thanking God for the leash wrapped around their ankles so not to have lost their board. But there will be the few that paddle, stand and ride that perfect curl from start to end – some even taking the time to walk the board and hang ten making it seem effortless and inciting others to give it a try. I wonder what my teenagers will do.
If you look further out to sea sometimes you will see those brave ones that are swimming down the beach. You see their arms one over then the other over, their faces in the water then inhaling deeply turned to the side. They are in a rhythm, they seem strong as you watch them swim away from you clearly on a mission, on their way to their destination. I think to myself – I could never do that. I wonder if one of my children will be strong enough.
For a while you feel at peace. You’ve taken in all that is happening around you. You realize that you have endured the peril of the ocean and its power. You respect its capability. But your legs begin to tire of their constant peddling to keep you afloat and the beach behind you is calling. A place of rest. So you begin to ride those waves into the shore. Sometimes we get a nice long wave that will carry us there in one clean swoop. Other times we make several attempts in short bursts to get back. But we know that the ride back is always smoother and easier than the battle on the way out. Going with the flow is so much easier than swimming upstream.
Once we return to the shore and head back to our perch, we feel tired. Worn out. Breathing a bit harder, our heart rates increased – needing to relax. It’s also a place to lay and watch those that are heading out into the waves, beginning their own adventure. Don’t we love to watch the others? The ones who get knocked down. The ones who swim immediately out looking unstoppable. The ones who shriek with the cool of the water on their abdomen. The ones who drag another out with them afraid to go alone. We love to see someone else make their way into the rolling surf. Mostly because we’ve all been there and we know the challenges that await them.
We all navigate the waters differently. Each trip out is always unique. No scenario is ever the same. But we are keenly aware of the potential for danger. Something is always bound to happen out there. It could be minor or major, pleasant or frightening, but one thing everyone knows is for certain…
We all come out of the water with a load of sand in our pants at the very least….
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