The Charmed Life of My Teenage Son

Charmed Life Teenage Son

© Kelli Nelson – kellihood.com

I’m celebrating my mom imperfectionism today because it has inadvertently crafted an excellent life lesson for my 17 year-old scary-know-it-all-teenage son.

You see I never won the battle of the finish your homework and study routine. In this case, I’m talking epic battles. Never-ending lectures. I surrendered after countless miserable afternoons and evenings. My son and I were much happier that way so I let it slide. And slide. Don’t get me wrong—we did revisit the battlefield regularly. And then we’d slide some more. Mom imperfectionism at its finest.

This resulted in my son’s GPA being a bit less than desirable to the Big Ten he’d suddenly grown interested in. Intelligent kid. Could have been at the top of his class had he put forth more effort.

Knowing this made me the train wreck that I’d been for the past several months. What the hell were we going to do?

Together, he and I came up with a plan. He was going to take both the SAT and ACT in one month. And score very high. He had less than 2 months to study and do nothing but study. Day and night. Non-stop. Of course it was a battle, night after night, as I knew it would be based on our history.

At the same time, my son was forced to complete essays for the applications I was submitting on his behalf to what seemed like a bazillion colleges at the time.

We had but a Hail Mary. Hope that someone in an admissions office somewhere would give him a chance when they checked out those test scores.

The good news: Something good, a valuable lesson, actually came as a result of my mom imperfectionism.

The better news: My son has actually acknowledged that he messed up and that he learned something from the mess.

The best news: His test scores are fantastic. Some areas even ranking him 94th percentile nationally.

And it gets even better. I’m the proud, imperfect mom of an Ohio State Buckeye. I can hardly contain myself. I’ve jumped up and down. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. It’s his dream. It’s mine.

My son. Brilliant test taker. Irrefutable procrastinator. Excessive risk taker. OSU Buckeye.

I’m really starting to believe the kid leads a charmed life or something.

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  1. Pacwp says

    I am a mom of four: adults sons aged 27, 21 and high-school twin girls, married to my college sweety for 20+ years, you can do the math. We learned early to pick our battles.  Our twin daughters are each as different as night and day:  One has her life mapped out, the other sees high school as a social venue.  Both girls will be graduating at the age of 17, as our social butterfly said, that is way too young!

    My hubby and I we have come to see High-school as only important for itself, no one, as you grow older, will ask: So, what was your HS GPA?  We encouraged our children to take a gap year: do something that is interesting to them, grow a bit, earn some money, live a little life!  At 18 when both our boys graduated and 17 the age our twins will, that is not an age of mature decision making!  They are just at the cusp of adulthood, flooded with hormones and giddy self importance; nothing sticks at that age, well, almost nothing!

    We have a very good nationally rated Community College and we encourage our children to do that, it is a good transition between HS and the big lights of college, less expensive too!

    Having our children experience life helps them learn what they want to do, see the life lessons of High-school and put what they learned, or didn’t, to use before they decide what they want to do in life.  Everything in live is a gamble, but our children hold the 

    As moms, for me as a mom of faith and feeling all moms are baptized as Priest = nurturer, Prophet = teacher, Queen = leader; we give our children the breathe of our wisdom and hope they will use it.  We hope that they will plan their lives well, but it is after all their life.  We mourn then they stumble, but we help them up with strength. We can only show they the path, it is up to them to take it and create the journey of their lives.

    Keeping you and your family in thoughts and prayers

    • says

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience and providing encouragement. I appreciate it and I know many other readers will, too!

  2. Pacwp says

    I am a mom of four: adults sons aged 27, 21 and high-school twin girls, married to my college sweety for 20+ years, you can do the math. We learned early to pick our battles.  Our twin daughters are each as different as night and day:  One has her life mapped out, the other sees high school as a social venue.  Both girls will be graduating at the age of 17, as our social butterfly said, that is way too young!

    My hubby and I we have come to see High-school as only important for itself, no one, as you grow older, will ask: So, what was your HS GPA?  We encouraged our children to take a gap year: do something that is interesting to them, grow a bit, earn some money, live a little life!  At 18 when both our boys graduated and 17 the age our twins will, that is not an age of mature decision making!  They are just at the cusp of adulthood, flooded with hormones and giddy self importance; nothing sticks at that age, well, almost nothing!

    We have a very good nationally rated Community College and we encourage our children to do that, it is a good transition between HS and the big lights of college, less expensive too!

    Having our children experience life helps them learn what they want to do, see the life lessons of High-school and put what they learned, or didn’t, to use before they decide what they want to do in life.  Everything in live is a gamble, but our children hold the 

    As moms, for me as a mom of faith and feeling all moms are baptized as Priest = nurturer, Prophet = teacher, Queen = leader; we give our children the breathe of our wisdom and hope they will use it.  We hope that they will plan their lives well, but it is after all their life.  We mourn then they stumble, but we help them up with strength. We can only show they the path, it is up to them to take it and create the journey of their lives.

    Keeping you and your family in thoughts and prayers

  3. says

    Congratulations! My sons did the same thing to me, but thankfully pulled it all together right at the end. Despite my nagging since the 9th grade about how important their grades were to be able to get in the college of their liking. However, lessons are only learned by living them. I am so happy for you and your “Intelligent Kid”!

  4. says

    Congratulations! My sons did the same thing to me, but thankfully pulled it all together right at the end. Despite my nagging since the 9th grade about how important their grades were to be able to get in the college of their liking. However, lessons are only learned by living them. I am so happy for you and your “Intelligent Kid”!

  5. Callie says

    First off I would like to say excellent blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I have had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Appreciate it!

    • says

      Thank you, Callie!
      How do I center myself and clear my mind prior to writing? Good question.
      I have ideas swimming in my head all of the time. Sometimes I’ll jot down thoughts on a post-it note but most often I leave it swim in my head. If an idea or thought remains in my head for more than a day, I feel like it’s meant to be written. I require a block of time without interruption so I do most of my writing at night after 10PM. There’s no special process or exercise for me before I begin. The most difficult thing for me is finding that quiet, uninterrupted time. Once I open a blank page, I briefly note my idea on the first line, skip down a few lines and the writing flows naturally from there. I guess it flows easily at that point for me because the thoughts and words have been following me around throughout the day and I’m simply transferring them to written form. When I feel blocked, I simply just stop. I’ll read a book and wait for the inspiration to hit me again and that could be days/weeks later. I’ve tried to force it many times but I end up disliking what I’ve written and it goes in the trash. Hope this helps! :)

  6. says

    This must be a common thread for many teenage mothers and sons. Their potential shines on a timeline that is not typical of the one school may run from. Your post reminds me of how patient we must be, yet firm with our children and allow them to make their own mistakes at times (and grow into adults at their very own spiritual pace). Thank you for the reminder to yield and allow them to find their path. Truly, we learn so much about ourselves through our children. xo

  7. Suzy Weiss says

    Kelli,

    Glad to here that this story had a positive ending. I guess this reenforces the old saying, ‘experience is the best teacher’.

    Suzy Weiss

  8. says

    Well, all the heartache and frustration finally paid off! Congratulations to you and your son. Even though it seems as if you’ve had your hands full with him, your son really sounds like a great kid.
    I can only imagine what awaits us during those teenage years in the future… I shudder at the thought!!!

    • says

      Oh, I’ve had more than my two hands full of my son! He really is a great kid. He’s not ever given me trouble with anything else so I guess he thought he’d hit me hard with this one! When someone tells you parenting gets easier as your kids get older, it’s likely because they haven’t yet lived through the teen years. Don’t believe it! :)

  9. says

    Wow- congratulations to you and your son! We haven’t gotten to the college prep years yet. Right now I am just trying to make sure we don’t get kicked out of preschool!

    Best,

    Jennifer

  10. Anthony says

    So nice to hear that it’s not just our son that wears us down with the homework battle! This sounds like a carbon-copy of our household. Our son, who just turned 18 and yes, knows everything despite the fact that his methodology has failed numerous times is now in the same boat. We’re waiting to hear on a scholarship that will determine where he goes. Hopefully he has not gone beyond that thresh hold where a rabbit can be pulled out of his hat.

    Thank you for confirming that it’s not just our son that has done these things!

    • says

      Hi Anthony! I’m thrilled to find others dealing with this same issue though I’m not happy that anyone would have to endure the frustration and heartache. So many times I’ve felt like I’m the only one in the world in this situation as I receive all that “take control, you’re the parent” advice. I pretty much put myself out there, as I usually do, and worried a bit about what the “critics” might throw at me. I’m so lucky and honored to receive my readers’ support instead! Thanks so for commiserating! :)

      • Anthony says

        You know….don’t you wish there was an instructional manual that popped out after the placenta does? Some kind of manual that gave you directions on what to do when they do, “this?”
        As a parent of four children, our eldest was the one we worried about the most. He’s now 21 and finishing up his junior year in college. But being the fact that he was the eldest it made him our first one; our guinea pig; our experiment. You don’t always know what you’re doing but the introspective parent knows what they liked and what they didn’t like about how our parents raised us. We want to avoid the things our parents did that even now as adults, we can look back and still clearly see that it was wrong. But we also try to mold their lives in a way that makes it so they avoid the same trials and heartache that we endured on our journey in life. I also think we have this preconceived notion or at least this vision of how we want our child’s life to be. And from the time they are born, we shape them, guide them and lead them down the path that will end our time as the hovering parent where they are emotionally healthy, happy, content, well educated and most of all, living the life we had planned out for them in our minds and hearts. But not all of them have that same idea nor the same appreciation as we do.
        We are DEFINITELY learning this with our second son Austin. He is HIGHLY intelligent….just not all that smart at times. And it has caused such frustration in our lives! It has caused a great amount of heartache, arguments between my wife and I, arguments about the most trivial things between us and him. It has made his senior year of high school almost to the point of being unbearable! But we very quickly found out that it’s not just us. We called the high school guidance department and they were saying that MANY parents are calling them literally in TEARS!! They are wondering what happened to their son or their daughter as if some invasion of the body snatchers themed movie had taken place? They reassured us, along with other parents that it’s not just us or our child, it’s them too! So my wife and I have come to a place within our minds that we will control and do what ever it is that we can to help him to help himself. We have given him the foundation of his existence; integrity, honor and a good moral compass of doing the right thing even when there is no one to see what you’re doing. The “house’ that he chooses to build upon this “foundation” is just that…his choice. Regardless of what he builds, we know that the foundation we provided is strong and will withstand the tests of early adulthood. And if worse comes down to worse, he can always rebuild the house…the foundation can take it.

  11. Shirley says

    My son is 14 and in grade 8. I am struggling to get him to do his assignments and study. I am pulling my hair out somedays. He doesn’t study and gets 60′s and 70′s if he studied and did his assignments he could be on the hounor roll. I’m tired of yelling at him. I’m hoping his attitude will change eventually. But until then I guess I will keep yelling…so tempting to give up though!

    • says

      It’s hard to feel confident in our parenting when we’re blessed with these immoveable children. My son earned 100% in everything until he reached grade 7. Then, in no uncertain terms, he told me one day he would no longer do this. We argued. I yelled. Our home was a miserable place to be during these arguing/yelling/reasoning sessions. I did keep on his case, don’t get me wrong. I asked him everyday when he came in the door from school what his assignments were and if he needed help. I tried to get him to let me sit with him to do his work and that was a definite no-go. At dinner, I would remind him to get his school work done. Just before bed, I would ask if everything was done and he would either tell me that it was or he would totally evade the issue in whatever way he could find. And believe me when I tell you there was no punishment I could dole out that would change this boy’s mind.

      Others are usually pretty quick to judge this situation but let me say, until a person has lived with and dealt with a child of this nature, they have no idea what they are talking about and should just shut it.

      So, at some point, I had to put my trust and faith into my son. In addition, it was becoming unfair and destructive for my daughter to live through the constant fighting. And again, others have been very quick to judge. But you know that old saying, “Until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes…”

      I wish you the best with your son. I definitely feel your pain and guilt. :)

    • Anthony says

      I think the 7th and 8th grade were some of the most difficult years for my wife and I. They are snotty, have attitudes, defiant and truly test you with every chance they get. There were times in those years where we had to take away EVERY single thing that they treasured such as their sacred iPod, X-Box, Computer, etc..etc.. And of course, they both fought us to the nail. But we stayed consistent, we stayed united and we told them that it was completely up to them how miserable they wanted to be and for how long they wanted to be without these items. If they chose to study, well then they chose to have a privilege given back to them. If they chose to not study or not do homework, then they chose to lose a privilege. And the most important thing we learned? NEVER…..EVER…..EVER let them bait you into an argument!! And they will soooooo try to bait you! And it’s sooooooo easy to get sucked in because you just want to yell and scream and spank them…..A LOT!

  12. Judy says

    Hi! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Heather M says

    Ohhh those life lessons are the hardest to learn. I know if I could go back, I would be a brainy nerd with all A’s. Ya right. Sounds like the lesson is just in time for college where it really really matters.

    • says

      I think he finally got tired of me shouting, “Dude, what were you thinking?!” He’s definitely a master of procrastination. Everything is always just in time with him. Thank gawd I love the boy. ;)

  14. says

    CONGRATULATIONS! I’ve half a mind to forward this to my 12-year-old, who wants to go to UCLA but is getting terrible grades. When I went online to show him that the average GPA of students admitted to UCLA is something like a 3.8, he said to me, “So, uh, maybe I can go to a college where you can get Ds.” Aargh.

    • says

      Thank you, Jadzia. Start now! Start now! Oh please, start now! :)
      My son is very lucky it worked out for him at OSU but it could have gone the other way just as easily. We definitely have to start planning for college and shaping our kids for college from day one, meaning kindergarten. My son is one of those naturally intelligent but very immoveable people. So we fought all the time. Still do.
      Praying my 4 year-old daughter is different that way.

  15. says

    “My husband even gave it a shot a night or two.” made me giggle …I’m thinking I’ll take the little one’s for the 1st half and he gets them the teenage years.

    The fact that he recognized and admitted it is huge… I consider that a win! Ah… parenting — it’s a hoot, huh?!

    • says

      Thanks, Amy! Sounds like you’ve got the best idea yet. ;)
      And for those who say it gets easier… just you wait and see. It does NOT.