Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord

I signed up The Child for the mission trip for 2 reasons. 1, it would give her something to do for a week and b) it had the potential to slap a little sense into her.

We haven't sought to spoil her, only child that she is. But let's face it, "entitlement" is a characteristic that teens manifest naturally. The fact that our culture feeds into that doesn't help. ("You're all winners!" No. Actually, you aren't). The Child expects to get what she wants, when she wants it. The fact that we don't always say "yes" to these desires, the fact that we insist on rules and consequences and chores somehow hasn't shaken her sense of entitlement. It just proves to her that we are really mean parents.

I figured a week working with kids who have soooo much less, coupled with sleeping on a basement floor, no television and even a stint in the fields doing some manual labor for next to no wages might open her eyes.

It wasn't until Mass on Sunday that I got another perspective on the opportunity.

There sat our 8 teens in their matching t-shirts. At one point The Spouse leaned over to me and whispered "I'm so proud of our little Boof". At the end of Mass Father called them forward for a blessing. He also gave them a charge, reminding them that they are examples of God's love, and extension of caring from our parish and that they were examples to all of us, giving up a week of their summer to serve the least among us. Wow. And then he had the congregation stretch out their hands in blessing as he prayed, the whole community sending forth some of our own to love and serve. I got more than a little varklempt.

Afterward, people kept coming up and saying "You must be so proud". And I was. But I was torn, too.

Before church, The Child was being as much a teen as it is possible to be. I couldn't tell her anything.

"Did you remember to pack your..."

"Yes, Mom". (eye roll)

"Do you have your..."

"YES, Mu-uh-om". (double eye roll and hair flip)

She didn't want me to stand around or help load the van (like the other parents). She didn't want to talk to me, didn't want to sit with us (most of the kids didn't sit with their parents but still). She was cool and self-possessed and mature and it was lovely to see. But it kinda hurt. I know I have to make friends with this pain. It won't last forever and it is normal. She's supposed to move away from me, from needing me. I really do get that and it's what I want. But still. Ouch.

I knew she wasn't going to tolerate anything so humiliating as a good-bye hug but I wanted to do something. Communion came. She was sitting at the end of the pew so as I went forward for Eucharist, I just very lightly put my hand on her shoulder without looking at her. She grabbed my hand, pulled me in and laid a big kiss on my head.

It was all I was going to get but it was enough.

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Blogger sageweb opined...

wow, how exciting for The Child. And how great for you to get a kiss. My neighbor is going through the whole she is a horrible parent with her teen right now..she gets super excited when he give her a smile. HAd no idea the impact of being a nice teenager had on parents.

July 08, 2008 12:01 PM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann opined...

Very exciting for her and for you. I'm trying to picture myself in her shoes as a teen and wondering what the heck I would be expecting from this. I'm guessing I would have had absolutely no clue how difficult and yet wonderful such an experience would be. But The Child is waaay smarter than me, so she's probably all clued in to this.

Can't wait to hear the update.

July 08, 2008 12:45 PM  
Blogger Buck opined...

Beautiful! I love that.

I also loved the line, "entitlement" is a characteristic that teens manifest naturally."

As always, please keep us posted.

July 08, 2008 1:20 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

Don't send her!!..
She'll come back all self-reliant,mature,and enlightened!
..I've seen it happen before.

July 08, 2008 2:05 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

It's huge, Sage. (stops to write yet another note of apology to own parents)

KA, I'm quite sure she'll get things out of it she never expected. Although probably all she'll say when she returns is, "It was fine".

You know I will, Buck.

Dammit, Sling. Too late. Shoot.

July 08, 2008 2:21 PM  
Blogger rosemary opined...

She is a good girl...she will learn and grow from this. Hint: it isn't an apron string...it's a rubber band.

July 08, 2008 2:29 PM  
Blogger TWISI opined...

she is growing up right before our eyes.

i love seeing how much the kids in my church grow in one week of missions, it really is astonishing to see how their hearts soften for the community as a whole when they serve the least among us.

BTW, thanks for the link.

July 08, 2008 5:12 PM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants opined...

This was just lovely, Rainey. And don't worry, you'll get through all of it. You're a great Mommy. :)

July 08, 2008 7:59 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

I LOVE that image, Rosie.

Ain't it the truth, Twisi? Crazy. There is something really lovely about kids in service to others, isn't there? Like there's hope for the future or something. And you're more than welcome...it's a great blog.

I'm glad YOU think so, MHP. You might want to mention that to The Child sometime.

July 08, 2008 11:43 PM  
Blogger D.A. opined...

Very moving and all very true... but don't get too excited: she'll be needing you PLENTY when she's 25... and 35...

July 09, 2008 4:43 AM  
Blogger Doralong opined...

This too shall pass, in a few years.. I've rather enjoyed having an almost normal person back in the house these last few months, fleeting as it may be. I can however say sixteen is better than fifteen was, that's for sure! She'll be fine, really. All your evil will pay off in the long run.

July 09, 2008 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha (Note no W)

Love. Isn't that what Christ was all about? Guess not from the way many "Christians" act. Still its nice when there is at least a little shown.

16? Isn't that when they start driving?




July 09, 2008 11:13 AM  
Blogger Anne opined...

great story.

can't wait to hear how she did.

since my young'n is a year behind yours, i'm taking copious notes, you're a good mom!

July 09, 2008 11:33 AM  
Blogger booda baby opined...

Love really gets expressed in all sorts of ways, doesn't it?

Pretend you can read a whole long paragraph in that one sentence. Wasn't trying to be glib, but you pretty much covered everything and the rest of it doesn't need to be talked about.

July 09, 2008 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Syd opined...

Lovely post, Rainey--here's hoping the Child learns what she needs to learn from the experience, and still has a good time!

And she wouldn't have turned out as well as she has if you weren't doing several very important things right. ;)

July 09, 2008 12:14 PM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

Your blog psots remind me of what it was like when I was a teenage girl.

Oh wait, I was never a teenage girl.

Well, not on the OUTSIDE anyway.

July 09, 2008 6:43 PM  
Blogger Willym opined...

and she'll come back more loving and caring... of others... sadly on occassion you'll still be the horrid mom you've always been! Lucky Child, wish my Mom had been half as horrid.

July 10, 2008 9:04 AM  
Blogger greeny opined...

I hear what you're saying.

The mission trip is completely perfect to help quell the "entitlement" tendencies. I believe every teen needs a trip or two like that. Perhaps every adult needs to experience a mission trip as well.

I'll be watching for more on the trip...

July 12, 2008 5:31 AM  

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