My oldest is 12 years old. He has always been adverse to work. From Day One this baby boy thought it was too much work to suck. He'd continually fall asleep while I tried to feed him. We'd strip him down to his diaper, tickle him, get him wet... but he'd just sleep. Then when I laid him down he'd wake up, hungry. It was amazing.
Over the years we naturally assigned chores. He put up such a fight. Even so, we'd still require things of him, but it has led to a less than peaceful homelife. I've blogged about our struggles before. Just know that it has been a constant in our family's life.
But early this year, my son said, "I think I'd like to volunteer this summer."
My heart jumped. Was it our random family service projects? Our lifestyle of living for more than just ourselves? Our faith? The values inherent in homeschooling? What was it that sunk to the middle of my son's heart and inspired him to 1. want to work and 2. work for the benefit of someone else? I wish I could say there was a formula that produced this result. But God is more mysterious than that.
This is a picture of him in his volunteer shirt, nametag and men's 28" waist shorts. He's so... mature. It looks nice on him. And it feels nice in our family. More often than not he now helps me carry in groceries, care for his littlest brother, and even holds the door... sometimes. He has often been the voice of reason when his younger brothers are bickering and there have even been moments when he has been calm during my frustration. He's not always successful at his attempts to be more adult, but he's trying and I applaud his attempts to move along more in this direction.
This summer he has had some great maturing moments: riding a dirtbike for a weekend, buying an electric guitar and teaching himself, hiking without complaint through a national park, staying home alone for the first time by himself, running the batting order for his brother's team, and riding his bike to the library on his own. And then there's the job with Park and Rec: washing and driving golf carts, folding gym towels, helping at an art camp, playing with babies in the day care. Amazing.
This summer he's experienced a growth spurt in his integrity and character. I had been hoping for this day to come, but honestly, I wasn't really sure that it would. It has. It's beautiful to see your child move away from childhood and step out to see what it is that he might be designed to do. It's amazingly touching to see him move toward me at a time in life when I thought he would want to move away. And, at the core, it's grace that God would work in his life in this way at this very moment.
I still say what I've always said, "My son is amazing." And he is.