making peace

February 4, 2012

Passing time. All we really need is sleep. But the chairs are too hard, and the floor too dirty in this airport terminal. So instead we camp out together at metal tables, in plastic chairs. Passing time. We have spent 5 days together at a hectic pace, traveling together from one Arab country to another, preparing debates, researching topics, socializing with some 400 delegates from all over the world, and making mad dashes for almost-missed events [due to the learning curve of figuring out how time-consuming teenage prep time can be!]. And we are tired now, as we head back to our place of school and work. Ok, so I am tired now. Don’t know if I can speak so much for my troop of teens. No doubt they feel it less than I do. For my part, I must admit to a feeling of dread for jumping into the beginning of the week immediately upon arrival. It will be a challenge to face the week after skipping one night of sleep altogether, and skimping on a series of them. But this is one of those situations in life when you just have to trust that there will be grace for that weakness . . .
*pausing now to respond to a “Hey, Miss J—come look at this!”
So is this what it feels like to mother teens? I do hope that having 6 at once, cold turkey, makes it slightly more challenging than your average parenting process: Lord knows it’s kicking my butt! But oh, how good it has been! More prominent even than the feeling of dread for the long week ahead, in fact, is the sadness that this time has ended. It flew by so very quickly—as times like this do. And after the softness of this time, so far as the relations between us go, the sadness of the time ending is largely due to the return to “normal” teacher/student relations that must come now.
The last evening of the conference included a “Culture Night,” in which each school’s delegates presented some sort of snippet of their country’s culture, mainly in the form of dance and song. Needing no prompting, our group chose to spend long hours preparing a traditional dance in which all of them would participate. Before the presentation, they decided to have one student introduce the dance. This was unusual, so far as the other presentations go. And what she said when she got up before the audience was even more unusual. She had come to me beforehand, nervous about the fact that she kept crying when she thought about what she was going to say. And I was awed. Awed by the heart of this mature young woman, and awed by her insight. I don’t think I would even have had such far-sighted wisdom when I was in high school. I don’t think many people ever get to such a point, for that matter! She explained the history of this dance and then she did indeed tear up as she continued, “Most people don’t realize how beautiful our country is. They only think of it as a war-torn land. But it is the most beautiful country in the world . . .”
Then they began to dance. And in that dance was packaged all the beauty that brought such emotion to her young heart. It was beautiful. They were—are—beautiful.

3 Responses to “making peace”

  1. Tucker said

    Can NOT even imagine what this journey has been! NOT EVEN!!!Praying Gods mercy and grace…lots of it…for the week ahead. You remain my hero!!

  2. KIm said

    Grace and strength and blessings to you for being part of these teens lives and this experience!
    Yes, cold turkey with 6 teens has got to be way harder than slowly growing up the teens so you grow in experience as they get older.

  3. Terry said

    What awesome experiences God is blessing you with! You’re exactly the kind of person I would want traveling with my young adults. As mother to 3, I can only say my experiences left me with gratitude God makes our babies so precious to us, giving us the good memories to balance the teen years with. We can usually see a hint of the wonderful children they were, even on their challenging days. That’s enough to remind us how much we still love them, no matter what they say and do, that looks otherwise at the moment.

    We can’t imagine what it would be like living with teens cold turkey and dealing with everything as it comes. You are indeed a special person to remain nurturing, understanding and appreciative of them. May God continue to richly bless you and protect you and those in your care.

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