I'm starting to realize that it's not as easy as it used to be to just put up a random blog about the kids and their experiences. Particularly for Brayden, as he's getting older, he's a bit more sensitive about what I'm detailing about him on the blog.
So, I might be pushing it a little bit with this one, but last week we had quite the reveal from him. It explained a lot about why he's been the way he has been acting.
Brayden turns 13 in just a couple of weeks. He's a boy. He has inattentive ADHD. He has an all-"otter" personality. All these things combine to create a kid that is not always very clued in to what is needed to do as a participant in this family or 7th grade student.
It's also started to dawn on me that Brayden is getting to that pivotal stage in life where "it's all about his friends - and his own interests". If Brayden is motivated intrinsically to do something or be attentive to something, he's on it. But, if it's not part of HIS game plan, than we are all too often met with an expression of intense frustration and whiny defensiveness. (Let me just thank GOD right now that whiny-ness is what we're met with and not active defiance or yelling...most certainly counting my blessings).
It is at this point in my blog post that I want to offer a HUGE apology to Mom and Dad for my own teenage years. While I know it is normal and typical behavior, it breaks my heart how it was "all about me" and what I was focused on. The idea of having to get 30 minutes (max!) of chores in to sweep the floor or vacuum the living room was just such a BIG deal of having to get accomplished.... I've spent a lot of time thinking about my attitude during those years...particularly high school - and I'm really sorry.
On Wednesday night, I found myself awakened from semi-slumber in the bedroom to hear Brayden crying next to John in the living room. When I walked in to assess the situation, I heard my son so upset saying this:
"It just makes me so sad, I'm watching my friends make such bad choices. It's like every day I see them changing, they are all changing - and it makes me so sad".
(Recently, there were a number of suspensions at his middle school due to possession of marijuana, threats (to the "snitchers"), and lewd behavior)
Brayden then proceeded to process through his own behavior with our family by explaining that he's been so stressed watching and monitoring his friends' choices - and trying to make a difference - that it's created a friction for us. He's SPENT by the time he gets home, and under his own admission, all he wants to do is to escape for a while - in video games, his ipod, tv, or finding cool stuff on Nike. He confessed that that stuff never used to be that important to him, but now it's not only a means of escape, but for feeling like he's "keeping up" with his friends.
John and I came to some key conclusions following this half hour of discussion with him:
1. Brayden has the capacity to be incredibly intuitive, sensitive, and keyed in to the thoughts and feelings of kids around him. Particularly in situations regarding guys and girls and why they feel the way they do in relationship circumstances, Brayden can be a very caring and insightful friend.
2. Brayden is willing to forgo his own sense of security and safety to protect those friends he desires to encourage and stay true to. We discussed (as we do each year) if he would rather move to a private school and his response was that so many of his friends have had people bail on them in life and he wants to remain a constant.
3. Brayden has no desire to keep secrets from us. He was spilling it just as fast as it was all making sense to him - and we've seen this consistency of open-book behavior time and time again in his life.
4. His love language is absolutely "quality time". When he stayed home with me on Monday because he was sick, I felt like I had a 6 month old lab next to me the whole day. He was cute and charming, but relentless in his desire for attention and play. It can be exhausting. However, if our family can offer that quality time, that is where he would most want to be.
6. Finally, this kid is in desperate need for a break. Spring break is right around the corner, and Lord willing, he'll be out at Camp Harlow again serving the role of assistant counselor as "Phineas". For him to be spending time with those kids who need/adore him, in the presence of other Christian role models, and in an environment where God is being constantly glorified - I just couldn't ask for better "therapy". Two weeks after spring break, we'll be taking off with the Whites to Maui - so as long as that doesn't create a scenario of total grief regarding missed school work - it will also add to Brayden feeling restored.
So, that's a little bit of insight into our family and particularly what Brayden's been going through. It doesn't surprise us, and it pains us to know he's going through so much pain of hurting for the kids around him "growing up the wrong way", but we are so thankful for that discussion and getting such a glimpse of his heart. Lately, quite a few boys have been asking to go with him to the mid-school group's "Wildside" on Wednesday nights, and it's not hard to see why.
That doesn't mean we can let the attitude/lack of contribution to our family go unchecked, but at least it now makes a lot more sense.