I’m usually quick to share the “ugghh” situations, so I feel it only right to share the “aahh”.

In one of the now frequent late night chats with one of my teens (conversation flood-gates open at night just about the time your entire body is aching to go to bed), loads of school stories poured out. Many dealt with struggles, especially those related to a challenging work/study load.

To say the kid has put his best foot forward in the academic arena is an understatement. He’s busting it in all but one class – drama. Despite the occasional theatrical outbursts landing on a nearby sibling, the kid is as far as one can get from a budding thespian. We’re talking 100’s of miles away. Still, thanks to limited schedule options, he’s got to do it. … And he’s persevered.

Maestro… Cue the orchestra.

It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it has been legitimately challenging and hard. As we were talking, as he was venting, he brought up his geometry class in which he has a strong A.

Beethoven’s 7th begins slowly, softly

“You know, people might look at that and think, ‘Wow – that must be an easy class since he has such a high A!’ Well it’s not easy. It’s hard. Super hard…”

The faint melody swells and enters the room.

“I spent almost five hours getting it done the other night. The book did a terrible job explaining – and my teacher didn’t have enough time to go through it all. I wanted to give up so badly, but I didn’t.”

Oboes, clarinets, strings and tympani set the rhythm.

“I had the hardest time trying to teach it to myself (because his dad was out of town and he knows not to ask his arithmetically-challenged mom!), so at school I went into ask her at my Study Hall.”

The pounding refrain builds….

Frustrated he continues. “She told me the answer. … But I didn’t want the answer. I don’t care about the answer,” he almost yells,

until it peeks to the climax when all the instruments play the repeated ostenoto at fortissimo.

“…. All I wanted was to LEARN HOW to do it!!

A mom listening can barely believe her ears. ALL she wants is for the teen kid (living through some of the most difficult years of life) to keep on putting one foot in front of the other. To do just what he said – not give up. To endure the uncomfortable. To do more than just go through the motions. To fight the temptation to strive for answers. To go the extra mile … and learn. Because it’s not what’s on the outside that matters. It’s the inside that counts.

I tried to hide my pride. Okay, so I didn’t’ try very hard. I don’t think he could have said anything that could have made me more proud.

His upstream swimming was music to this mom’s ears. Might I reciprocate by reaching for the meaningful as I relate to my kids. Might I focus on the inside – their hearts – and avoid the ever-present temptations to preen outward appearances.

It’s inspiring to watch perseverance. Teens have lots of opportunities to persevere. … So do their folks.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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