The bounce in his gate as he trotted across the field and the huge grin on his face made me smile. He was glowing. It had been a few weeks since I’d seen that infectious smile. I was completely unprepared for how quickly the relationship with my son would change once he entered high school. It was as if I said good night to my sweet, silly little boy one night only to wake up the next morning to a solemn, one-worded, emotionless 15-year-old child in a man's body.
I expressed my bewilderment to a friend who had already lived through raising her own set of teenagers, and her response was so helpful to this new parent of a teenager. After listening with great compassion, she described her view of what the role of the parent of a teenager was. She said it’s like going to a theme park and standing on the ground as you watch your teenager ride the rollercoaster. When they look our way, we are to wave at them so they know we’re there.
As I thought about her words, I realized something about these uncharted waters. As I figure out what it means to let go of my child and let him experience the ride he is on without me, I am providing a point of reference for him as I stand there.
There I was as he trotted by where I was sitting in the stands on his way out to right field. I remembered what my friend said, and when our eyes met, I waved at him like a crazy lady.
With ball and glove in hand, he was in his element on that baseball field. A moment I captured to help me remember that my smiling, sweet, precious little boy who is now a 15-year-old is still in there, every once in a while looking for me to wave at him and know that I am there as he rides his own teenage rollercoaster.