I have had an AWESOME day. To be honest, I was worried. We are coming in to graduation week, and Tuxedo Boy has been particularly difficult. My mother says that this is a natural process that ensures that parents will let their children leave home…if they were not so irritating as seniors, we might hold on to them forever. I used to have the kids believing that they should live with me until they are 47. But we have been having the typical struggles with a child of this age, and the poor kid has had to listen to us lecture more than once in the last week.
Today was Seminary Sunday at church. All of the Seminary students and teachers were asked to talk. In our branch, that was three kids and two teachers. Because our branch covers a wide swath of land, we have two separate classes for the kids that live on opposite ends of the boundaries. At our end, Tuxedo Boy was the only student in his class for three years, until he was joined by my Musician son this year as a freshman.
For three years, Tuxedo Boy would get up at the crack of dawn – or before – and go to the church for Seminary. Every day, his teacher would get up and prepare a lesson for him. And every day, a priesthood member would have to join them at the church, as there needs to be more than two and at least one priesthood holder. I was always so impressed that not one, but two volunteers would arrive to teach one boy! It was quite humbling to see the service being offered. This year, because Tuxedo Boy was 17 and his brother was joining the class, they were able to meet just with their teacher.
It was a tremendous sacrifice for Tuxedo Boy. He loves to sleep in. He is a night owl, and getting up early is really and truly not easy for him. Thank heaven for his teacher, who was absolutely and unequivocally chosen by God to teach him. She was the most perfect personality for him; with a scathing wit, a respectful irreverence, and not shocked by anything that he said to her. He could joke and laugh and be sarcastic, and she would play along and make it part of the discussion. She is also highly conservative politically, and could have intelligent conversations with him on any current topic. Without her guidance and dedication, it would have been difficult for him to have accomplished four years of Seminary.
She knows the value of teaching, even if it is only one student. When she joined the church many years ago, her son was the only Valiant in his class. His teacher didn’t see the importance of preparing a lesson or even showing up for one student. That student is no longer active in the church. What a difference it might have made if that teacher had made the effort! I know in this case, the teacher making the effort for this one young man – my son – has made a world of difference. They have a very good relationship, and she has had a great impact on his life. When she recently needed a priesthood blessing, she asked him to assist her husband. It was very sweet and indicative of how they feel about one another. She is an angel that has brought him through the early morning refinery of Seminary, and she will always have my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude.
So today was Seminary Sunday, and both of my boys were to speak. I kept hounding them and hounding them to get their talks done, but like most teenagers, they procrastinated. I was worried.
The Musician spoke first, and his talk was very nice. It was a youth talk, to be sure, but he actually presented some good points. Tuxedo Boy spoke next. What came forth out of that child, I can only say made my mouth drop. He spoke with depth and maturity. He made jokes, he was serious. It was a beautiful thing.
He spoke of how worried he was about beginning Seminary. It was early and the teacher was just that scary lady that played piano in Relief Society. He talked about how he found out that she was not so scary after all. He talked about falling asleep in class, waking to find that the room was dark and his teacher had gone downstairs. He told about the brother that brought him sour candies and soda to keep him awake.
But he also talked about learning about the scriptures, and how it had impacted his life. How he found that he really knew nothing, but that the lessons in the scriptures had helped him to make good decisions in his life. About how he might be in another place entirely without that daily scripture study. He talked of wanting to study the scriptures, and how Seminary had given him that chance.
He is a religion scholar on his own. He has read not only the four standard works (not so much the D&C, which is not his favorite!), but the Koran and other religious texts, as well. He reads all of the time. It falls into his other interests, which are history, war, government, economics, and politics. They are all related and affect one another in many ways. If I want to know anything about anything, I usually go to him. But to hear him talk of the spiritual side of the scriptures, and the gratitude that he has for them…priceless. I was walking on air by the time he finished speaking.
He followed this up by being one of the speakers at the Stake Seminary Graduation. He began his talk with my favorite scripture as a mother, Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” From this scripture has come many a discussion with my boys, who needed to understand that sometimes I made them do things that were hard or not so fun, because it was preparing them for the future. That I was doing the best that I could, knowing my responsibility to raise them in a righteous manner. My responsibility to God for their training and care. It meant a lot to me that he began his talk with this scripture.
To which he added his own favorite scripture, Proverbs 21:19 “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Was that aimed at me??!! He got some good laughs with that one.
His talk was much like the earlier one, but perhaps with a bit more seriousness. He pointed out that his generation is facing a darker, more menacing world, and how they needed this spiritual training to survive.
I was so proud of him. For speaking in public. For his insight. For his maturity. For listening even when I was sure that he wasn’t hearing anything that we taught. For respecting his priesthood. For just being himself.
I saw a glimpse of the other side of this crazy rocky time that we call the teen years. I saw the man that my son would become. And I liked it.
Congratulations, my baby. For four years of sacrifice, to learn the things that you will need to know as you go out into the dark, menacing world, and emerge unscathed. You are a fine example of strength and character, and I know that you will be able to face any challenge if you wear the full armor of God. I’m proud of you, and I love you and admire you. Today, I saw that I will always be learning from you, and learning about you. What an incredible blessing it has been for me to be your mother in this life.
Today was AWESOME!