Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The cycle of life

Our first day of school didn't start the way I had planned. Instead, it began with my husband's head deep inside the dryer and a trip to the laundromat for me at 7 AM. At the last minute, I decided to wake up my 17 year old son and take him along to carry the baskets full of wet towels. He wasn't pleased, but I needed the help.

While we sat there watching the towels spin, my son and I began to talk about the upcoming year. He has a full academic schedule - a mixture of college and homeschool work. In his spare time he's also playing the role of Diesel in the stage production of West Side Story and working part-time as a life guard.

As I dropped in two more quarters to keep the dryer spinning for another cycle, he started to come alive. He began to open up a bit about how confused he is about the future, what he wants to do after his senior year, and all the choices he's going to start making on his own. Then he said,

"You know mom, many people fear death. Not me. It's making choices about my future that I fear more. If I make a dumb one, I've got to live with it the rest of my life."

He kept talking for a little while longer. I listened, searching for something to encourage him, but nothing ever came. The dryer buzzed and we quickly moved from the philosophical to the practical. There were towels to fold and children at home waiting to use them.

As we drove home, I realized that I was no longer sitting next to my act now, think later impulsive son, but a thoughtful, more serious young man who had taken ownership of his life. I blinked away a sudden burst of emotion and turned into the driveway.

Life's most significant moments often begin with a small seemingly insignificant decision, like dragging your teenager to the laundromat at 7 AM.

That's it. That's what I wanted to say to him in the laundromat. Make wise small decisions and the future seems to take care of itself. I turned to tell him, but he was already two-steps ahead, carrying the fresh bundles inside the house, ready to begin the day.

The time to speak was gone. It is now time for me to decide to finally let go and let him live it.

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