I used to think the most difficult part of parenting a teenager would be actually dealing with the teenager.
I was wrong.
Other than the fact that my nearly 15 year-old son wanders through our house in a general state of surliness, he hasn’t caused any more problems than he ever did.
His father, on the other hand, is making parenting a bit more difficult.
Don’t get me wrong. For the most part, my husband and I have been on the same page in regards to expectations for our children. But there’s been a recent hitch in that unity.
The trouble began when my son announced that he wanted to attend a liberal arts college out of state. Neither my husband nor I had a problem with that. We simply told Shepherd that he has to take responsibility for paying the difference between out-of-state and in-state tuition.
“Anything’s worth getting out of here,” he said. “This place is so boring.”
He clarified that “this place” encompasses the entire state of West Virginia. That’s was when my husband began to twitch.
Neither my husband nor I were born in West Virginia, but he has roots here. Deep roots. The kind of roots that go down so far they nearly reach the earth’s core. I, on the other hand, am a simple transplant in loose soil.
Our roots never made a difference until our son announced his lack of commitment to the Mountain State.
My husband was devastated by Shepherd’s comment, and his immediate reaction was to recite the entire family history and its connection to West Virginia. Both my son and I were unimpressed.
I never grew up with an understanding of family roots as they relate to a sense of place. My dad is from Massachusetts, and my mom is from Michigan. I never lived in either state, and I spent my childhood in Oregon. To me, growing up meant moving out and moving on. It also meant that family has absolutely nothing to do with geography and everything to do with relationships.
On the other hand, my husband’s heart and soul are tied to West Virginia.
While I want to encourage Shepherd to move to Seattle (where he wants to be), my husband is encouraging him to maintain the family connection to West Virginia. I think our son can do both.
I don’t think he will lose his sense of place by leaving. I believe that, as he moves on, he’ll have the opportunity to share the essence of West Virginia and its people.
At this point, my husband isn’t in agreement, but we’ll see. We still have a few years and another child.
She’s 11 years old and already believes New York City is her destination.
I haven’t told my husband yet. I’m not sure he’s ready for that.
I AM sure that the next seven years are going to be very interesting.