“Do you even want to hear my side of it?” my child asked.
“No,” was my tense response.
I had been informed by someone about his actions and behavior and did not like it one bit.
I didn’t want to hear excuses or justifications.
I had been told by someone I trusted that my child had done something uncharacteristic of him.
And because his behavior since turning 14 was that of some small stranger, I believed them.
Believing this person was not a bad thing; the person was trustworthy, and I had known them for quite a while.
The bad thing was not believing or listening to my child.
I didn’t give him an opportunity to tell his side of things.
He wasn’t even allowed the chance to defend himself.
Why did I do this?
Well, for starters, I am not a perfect parent by any means.
And, I was taking his behavior personally.
Over the last few months, there had been a shift in our dynamics as we have butted heads in some heated disputes.
He has been moody, mouthy, and argumentative.
He has been withdrawn and opinionated when he was trying to engage in conversation.
All traits I didn’t care for very much.
So, when someone told me he was misbehaving, I believed them because it supported my own bias.
I was angry.
I was disappointed.
And I was not going to let him tell me what happened.
I took someone else’s words over his.
I am not saying we shouldn’t listen when someone tells us things about our kids.
By acting like we have perfect little angels that do no wrong, we get in a very dangerous dance that creates kids who think they can get away with everything and sets them up for a life of entitlement.
But I do think we should also listen to our kids, especially when we know they are inherently good ones.
A few days later, I had a meeting with one of my child’s teachers.
“He is a great kid,” she said when reviewing his notes.
Her genuine words resonated in my heart.
I repeated them.
Suddenly, hearing another person’s perspective reminded me of a fact I had somehow forgotten.
“I am glad you said that,” I told her. “Since he’s turned 14, I feel like I don’t know him.”
The other teachers in the room nodded. “It’s the age,” one said.
“Yes, it is the age,” another commented.
“So, this is normal?” I asked.
I had never been a 14-year-old boy before; I had been a 14-year-old girl and couldn’t really remember what I was like. According to my Mama, I was pretty horrid.
“It’s normal,” I was told.
I asked another friend who had two sons. She too assured me this was normal, even thought it was not exactly my favorite phase.
“We did some obnoxious stuff when we were 14, too,” she assured me. “We just don’t remember it. But I am quite sure we were just as bad. But boys will come around. Believe me; they do. That heart they have is still there, it’s just buried over hormones right now.”
His compassionate, kind heart was what I had always loved about my child. It was what others had loved as well.
I was thinking about all of this as we went through a drive thru one evening.
“I owe you an apology,” I began. “I should have let you tell your side of what happened. I am sorry.”
He looked at me and nodded. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not. I was not being very fair to you. And I was over-reacting just because I have taken some of your behavior personally. I should have heard you out.”
“I just don’t understand why the person said that,” he began. “And after thinking about it, the only thing I can think of, is she was just trying to look out for me because she cares about me. So, maybe it made her a bit overprotective. What do you think?”
I thought it was amazing that my child was looking for the positive in the other person, instead of trying to cast blame or fault, or even justify what he did.
He was looking at the heart of the other person.
For a fleeting moment, I saw that little tenderhearted boy flash before my eyes again.
Suddenly I realized, he may not be perfect, and he will make mistakes;
that’s how he will learn. He may do some stupid things and get in trouble.
But deep down, he is a good kid and has a good heart. And I needed to remember that a little bit more.