An interview with long-time local business owners Danny and Mary Moore this week resulted in more personal parental reflections than usual for me.
At one point, Mary Moore spoke of the pride she and her husband have for their business but especially their four grown children. She said in a casual conversation, “they are everything to us, it’s always been that way.”
It was a short, impactful statement. It’s how my wife and I feel about our sons. It’s been that way ever since they were born, and I suspect it will be forever.
Life is about timing. While Mary’s personal comment about the importance of family would have resonated with me no matter, it comes as today we celebrate our Beckett’s 15th birthday. It doesn’t seem possible that I have a 15-year-old son (or a 13-year-old for that matter).
Kid birthdays naturally provide an opportunity to reflect. When I think about my son currently, it’s impossible to not marvel over his last year. As a teen in full-blown puberty, we are on a roller coaster ride to be honest. There are super days but there are also difficult ones, usually a result of mood extremes, social issues not shared with us and typical rebelliousness.
An old parental saying is, “the days go slow, but the years go fast.” It’s so true in many ways.
In Beckett’s case, this last year has been the most memorable one yet. Throughout his eighth-grade year, our kid expressed a desire for a change in his life, specifically high school. He wanted to try boarding school and he articulated his reasons eloquently and clearly. It was difficult to digest for Pam and me. It was initially a simple “no way” and then we came to the realization we were being selfish. Over the course of months and visits to the school, we realized we should allow him the opportunity to do something different if he felt like he needed more. We didn’t understand it and his desire for change hurt us deeply, but we had to put aside our parental feelings and not be selfish.
Last August, we took him to school for move-in day. It was a difficult day, something akin to college drop-off but four years early. I have never experienced the extreme of mixed emotions. It was heart breaking and thrilling at the same time mixed in with self-doubt, guilt and worry.
For the first few months, we saw him every couple weeks with visits home or events at his school. He was happy and making new friends. We rarely heard from him other than texts, resulting in some difficult times for Pam and I and a major period of adjustment in our lives.
Over the Christmas holiday break, we started noticing some changes with Beckett. It was clear things were changing, but we needed to wait for him to express his feelings.
In January, with an application deadline for next year nearing, we noticed more changes with Beckett about boarding school. He was still positive about the new school generally, but we saw undeniable differences in his demeanor on each drive back to school. He seemed conflicted, but he would not say what was going on. A typical teen, he was being aloof and guarded. We suspected he was contemplating whether he wanted to continue for the second half of this year, let alone return next year.
The conversation eventually took place when it came time to make the deposit for next year. He wanted to return home. We figured he meant after his freshman year. He was thinking immediate and had a path back to Worcester Prep in his mind as he knew the school was in between semesters. He wondered if he could come home for the second semester.
Over the last four months, it has been impressive to watch him transition back home. Beckett seems intent on showing he has changed. He has become more independent and focused on his schoolwork. In fact, he almost didn’t play lacrosse this spring because he was worried about getting behind on schoolwork. We convinced him balance was important, and he did play and enjoyed it.
When he first returned home, it was great to see Beckett treating us much better than before. He seems to have a newfound appreciation for us as his parents based on his experience away at boarding school and seems grateful for the love, support, acceptance and flexibility. He also likes the homecooked meals a lot. He has said several times he was happy he went away to school because he learned a lot. I can see near the top of that list is the value of home.
Before he left for boarding school, he seemed fascinated with what other kids were doing and why they could do things he could not. For instance, we were not okay with him camping out on the beach with a bunch of older teenagers, but other friends his age were allowed. He would not take no for an answer and fought us. We stood our ground, building up resentment.
Today, when these inevitable types of situations arise, he will still ask but without as much fight. However, he even said how he was glad he did not do something recently because there was some overindulgence of drinking and a kid was hurt.
On his 15th birthday, I am proud of our boy. Life with him is not always fun and easy, but he is kind-hearted and growing into a good person. We are all works in progress, and it’s awesome to be able to watch our son change and evolve over time with support and love (and even some anguish at times).