There are some posts here on Laughing at Chaos that are really hard for me to read. I start with a few words and suddenly I’m back reliving those moments. There was a lot of pain in some of those posts, and while hard for me now, at the time it was all I knew. People think I’m batshit crazy when I say I love having teenagers, that I’d rather go through my high school years for all of eternity instead of the early parenting years, but they don’t usually know the backstory. The backstory that is here on this website. They don’t know how far we’ve come.
My god, I’ve lived this 2e parenting journey and even I can’t believe how far we’ve come. The wide-eyed infant who rarely slept, the toddler who routinely circumvented the child-proofing, the preschooler who constantly asked, “how’s it work?,” the kid who was once described as “the most complex child I’ve ever seen” by a principal experienced with gifted kids, the homeschooler who lived the out-of-the-box life…he’s nearly an adult. Andy turned 17 in April, something I have an extremely hard time reconciling with my inner clock. How I could possibly have a 17 year old son is beyond me, but that’s a post for another day. He still marches to the beat of his own drummer, but he’s more proficient with his sticks and the world is more appreciative of his rhythms. When you’re really young, the world doesn’t usually appreciate a life lived in 7/16+3/32 time, but as you age it appears it’s slightly more accepted. Kinda like Campari, it’s an acquired taste.
This spring we’ve seen the world turn and start to really dig Andy’s 7/16+3/32-metered rhythms:
At the end of March we went on a college tour and watched in proud amazement as faculty and grad students were astonished at his tech knowledge and skill.
In mid-April he competed in Skills USA with his dual enrollment program, and took first in the state in Information Technology Services. He’ll compete at Nationals this summer.
And then a few days ago I accompanied him to THOTCON, a computer security/hacking con in the city. He was in his element, I was a fish out of water in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before. I wrote most of this post by hand in a notebook there, while he went and did whatever the hell he did. I was surrounded by several hundred people just like my complex, quirky kid. Overwhelming barely begins to describe it, but there was a bar and day drinking encouraged, so a good time was had by all. Cory Doctorow was the first keynote speaker, and there any possible link to my own life and interests ended.
I know most parents have this experience of watching their kids advance into their lives with a mixture of joy and pride and astonishment. But when I think of all the shit we had to wade through to get to this point I’m struck with a gratitude so profound it makes my heart hurt. I think of all the assessments, the expensive interventions. I flash back to the homework battles, the screaming matches, and the meltdowns. I remember the sleepless nights and crying myself to sleep from fear and frustration and despair.
My god, how far we’ve come.
Andy is still deciding what he wants to do in the future, and I have finally learned to just get the hell out of his way. It’s his life and he gets to plan and live it. I do envy him that fresh future, but I had mine and now I get to watch him navigate his. His path is certain to be unique and always to the beat of his own experimental drummer. We’re fairly certain his future is somewhere in technology, we just don’t know yet if it’ll be through the traditional college route (though that really isn’t all that traditional), internships/apprenticeships, or something entirely different. I do know that it’ll be perfect for him, whatever it is, and that he will revel in the experience. He’s finally at the point of learning exactly what he wants to learn with people he likes (and who like him) at a pace he can control.
My god, how far we’ve come.