Texas Baptist news nsmlogo

April 15, 2001

Woman, thou art loosed...

___By Donna Van Cleve
___Something strange has happened since the kids left for college. Parents always worry a bit that their children might go nuts once they leave the nest. Freedom.
___ Will they act responsible? Unshackled.
___ Will they remember everything they were taught? Rebellion.
___Do parents mean what they say about unconditional love if their children do something stupid or embarrassing? Poor choices.
___The first weekend our son came home from college was a test. It had been at least two months since we packed him off to College Station. I saw his pickup in the driveway as I drove up to the house, and I hit the ground running. I threw open the Online Onlykitchen door and my arms to gree
t him, and then stopped dead in my tracks.
___ Van stood there smiling. . .with a nose ring in his nose.
___ My arms froze in mid-air.
___ "Hi, Mom!" He walked over to me.
___ My arms dropped to my sides. Unconditional love flew out the window.
___ "What is that on your nose?" I asked, horrified. Rebellion! In my household!
___ "A nose ring." He smiled even bigger.
___ Who was this child? Where was my son?
___ "You pierced your nose? Why?!"
___ "My friends dared me."
___ Wrong answer.
___ "Dared you? DARED YOU?!" Sort through parenting memory file. … Ah yes, the old jumping off the cliff story. Dust it off. Turn up volume.
___ "No, Mom. I just wanted a nose ring."
___ I turned and walked straight to the bathroom and shut the door. My daughter was in there brushing her hair. I sat down on the only seat in the room and put my face in my hands.
___ "Where did I go wrong, Ness? I thought your brother was stronger than to give into peer pressure like that. And he’ll be seeing everyone at the football game tonight. No, everyone will be seeing him and his nose ring."
___ "Oh ,Mom, it’s not that bad."
___ After a few agonizing minutes later, Van walks into the bathroom laughing and gives me a hug—his nose minus one nose ring.
___ "It’s fake, Mom. I just wanted to get a rise out of you."
___ Well, he got a rise all right. I wanted to rise up and spank him. But I also felt a little guilty about my reaction. I should’ve realized something was amiss, though, because my husband was also in the kitchen, and he seemed strangely calm about the whole ordeal—not his standard modus operandi about such things.
___ Van said, "Yeah, when I first walked into the kitchen and Dad saw it, he just started chasing me around the island to rip it out of my nose. I had to show him on the run that it was fake. Then he just laughed and told me to put it back in before you got here, Mom."
___ Not funny. That is such a vulnerable time for us after our children leave home. We worry that everything might not have "took" when it comes to our children’s upbringing. There is an unspoken fear among us parents that our clinging to the "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it" proverb might actually reveal some gaps in that training.
___But then something happened to me, too, after my kids left home. I go to bed now when I want to. Freedom.
___ I wake up when I want to. Unshackled.
___I watch what I want on TV. Rebellion.
___ I ate Cheetos—not Cheerios—for breakfast this morning and pizza for lunch. Poor choices. Van is constantly after me now about eating right and exercising.
___ Who had been raising whom?
___ What happened to me after the kids left home? Maybe it’s not as obvious as a nose ring, but it’s there all the same.

___Donna Van Cleve is director of the public library in Cotulla, a writer, wife, mother and member of First Baptist Church in Cotulla, where she is pianist

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