It is true that being a parent comes with no manual, no orientation, no disclaimer and no return policy. And yes – I forgot – no troubleshooting guide tailored to the special little gift you received. You feel you are on your own and just never know what you are going to get. It is one of the most rewarding yet at the same time the most testing part of one’s life.
I have two boys, 13 and 11 years old. The simple truth is that my children have been and continue to be my teachers. Preteen and teen years carry unique challenges. It seems as though as a parent, you are in a constant tug of war to balance your children’s technology use and the rest of family life. However, as with anything in life, in parenting we have those moments that change everything and give you the glimpse of possibility and connection making the bond with your child stronger. I happen to call those moments “conscious moments.”
It was sunny April day. I was coming home from quite a hectic work day. As I pulled in my driveway, I was greeted with a big smile and a warm hug by my neighbor Aniko. Her eyes lit up as she was telling me how my older son helped her that day. He must have sensed Aniko had a long day taking care of her busy, energetic 3-year-old girl, Sofi.
My son offered to take Sofi and her brother Ben for a walk. Happily they headed for basketball court and joined other kids playing hoops. My heart warmed as I heard Aniko tell this story. The truth is, teen years are shaded with self-centeredness and disconnect, and I was proud and happy my child did this.
Shortly after talking with Aniko, I drove to the court to pick them up to take my son for the afternoon sport practice. As I approached the court, my son and Ben ran over to the car, their eyes wide open and anxious looks on their faces.
“Mom, something happened, “my son shouted. “Sofi dropped my phone and the screen cracked.”
I immediately thought about how we had purchased this phone only two days ago. I felt instantly angry.
Before, I even realized it, I mouthed “What the _____!”
Anger and frustration took over as I scolded him on taking care of your belongings, how much things cost and responsibility. As I looked at the phone, my face must have said it all.
Everyone got in the car silently.
Later that evening, heated discussion about the phone’s cracked screen continued. Looking at my son’s upset face painted with frustration and defense trying to explain what happened to the phone, out of nowhere, there it was…
A laser-focused thought befriended my mind. A voice landed in my head and told me, “Your child was in service. He helped another unselfishly…on his own. What is the PRICE of that?”
Still shocked, I stood showered with overwhelming gratitude for the clarity of this moment. As I looked at him still defending and debating, telling me about the circumstances of the phone being dropped, I reached over and gave him a big hug.
“I am proud of you. You helped Ms. Aniko today. I understand that the cracked phone was an accident.” Slowly, I watched frustration and anger fade from his face, as he replied, “I get it Mom. I know what I will do differently the next time.”
Petar.He still carries the same phone. The cracked screen is my reminder of the clear view of what life brings to us. Each moment plays out as an opportunity just waiting for us to be open and conscious to the possibility of seeing beyond.