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September 2014
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Link, His Eagle Project, and Growing Up

You’d think that being self-aware about the teenage process of separation from parents would make the process easier. I guess it does in some ways. Link and I talk and laugh. We like each other. Ultimately we’re going through cycles. I get frustrated that he’s not manifesting the sorts of independence that I want to see. He gets mad at me and tries to make me back off so he can do things his own way and not mine. These are the same cycles that most parents of teens experience.

Today’s realization for me: When I know how to do a project and I’m confident that there is enough time to get it done, then I can allow a kid to muddle through and have a learning experience. If I am not confident, then my brain worries at the project, plans the project, makes lists about the project, and I end up accidentally doing more work than I ought to do because it is the only way to relieve my uncertainty and stress. This afternoon we finally hit the point where my brain backed off of the eagle project and let Link be more in charge.

Today’s realization for Link: He really does not like having to focus on more than one work thing in a single day. He wants to go full-bore on eagle project, but school stuff keeps getting in the way.

If nothing else, the pressure and work of the eagle project are forcing Link and I to have a host of conversations about trust, responsibility, and impending adulthood. Half of them have been arguments, but even that is new. Link is standing his ground with words rather than fleeing or dodging. He is learning that sometimes I’m wrong. Hopefully he’ll spend some time during the next six months learning the many ways in which I’m right. Though six months is probably an optimistic hope. (It was only last week that Kiki, in her second year of college, emailed me to let me know I was right about something we fought over when she was Link’s age.) We’re learning how to navigate conflict through practice, which is not pleasant, but an invaluable skill for my son to have for the rest of his life. So the project is not all about sawing boards and assembling a shed. Though it kind of felt like the sawing would never end there for awhile. So many boards…

Tomorrow is a break day. Link is going to the temple with his youth group. I’ll be doing all the things which normally fill my week when I’m not spending most of it stacking lumber, making lumber shorter, or arguing with my son. Thursday we pre-assemble some pieces. Friday we haul everything to the build site. Saturday we build until it is a shed.

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