Something unexpected is happening with my firstborn sitting behind the wheel of our car.
A shift in our relationship has slowly been occurring through these last months of driving and I'm only just now realizing the source of this new ground is rooted in his independence. The independence birthed from trying new things and having the parental confidence behind him that says outloud, regardless of how we are feeling, "You can do this. We trust you with this."
A KC Chiefs lanyard dangles his keys around his neck. Only a new driver feels the need to show off their collection of keys and to jingle them constantly as evidence of maturity...maybe not even maturity, maybe just age. Keys separate a teenager from their younger peers. "I'm big stuff. I can drive. You cannot. I can drive. You cannot." The keys dance loudly proclaiming this milestone in life.
Our discussions find new paths; new trails to wander. Honestly, it's kind of freaking out my mama soul.
Behind the wheel of the car with eyes securely on the road, my firstborn's heart opens a little more, his words explore with a little more freedom, and his internal world is made a little more public to me.
While I'm dreaming of him successfully merging into traffic without being prompted, "Merge. Merge. Merge MergeMergeMerge. MEEERGE," he lets me catch a glimpse into his private world, too.
I'm learning what it means to daydream with my firstborn.
I can't wait until my friends and I can hop in the car and drive to St. Louis to see a friend.
The first time he let me in on that daydream, I jumped into his dream and squashed it.
Uhhh, not happening. No way are you and your three amigos driving to St. Louis alone to see a friend. You realize there are rules about teenagers being in a car with their peers and I don't know what they are, but we are not letting you drive to St Louis on I-70 alone. You can go,but a parent will go with you.
Conversation over. Dream done. I successfully showed him who was really in charge of all of his future hopes and plans. Realism needs to stop a dream before it even has a chance to blossom, right? Everyone needs a voice of reason in the home. I'm doing my family a favor by pointing out silly trains of thought.
My family has other names for me.
He tries again. I'm given another chance to hop into his world for a moment and just be with him, but I don't recognize the second chance.
I think it would be so fun to go to college with a friend.
What? I don't hear him saying that it would be more comfortable to leave the people he loves if he got to be with a friend, I hear him saying that he's going to plan to go to college based on where his friends go, not based on his future goals. Parental intervention alert!
You can't plan your entire future on where your friends want to go to college. If you end up going to the same college, FANTASTIC, but you can't make plans based on where everyone else feels called to go to school. You need to determine the path God wants for you, not the path of your friends.
He quiets. Walls go up a little. He didn't want my opinion; he simply wanted to share.
The dream killing feels a little less necessary when you feel the door to their hearts close.
Lord, please give me another chance to dream with him; and give me the wisdom to recognize it.
I'm a glutton for second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth chances.
God graciously gives.
Eyes on the road having successfully merged without being verbally prompted, he tosses me a conversation,
"I can't wait to have season tickets to the Royals game someday. I love those games."
I pause. My mind instantly has three comments, "1) Cha-ching. You have to have money to have season tickets to the Royals. 2) What job are you planning to have that you will actually have the time to go to all 752 games a year? 3) Since when do you even like baseball?"
My dream-killing comments catch in my throat.
I swallow and boldly step into his daydream.
"That would be such a blast."
He simply nods.
The car makes its way to our destination with both of us contemplating season tickets to the Royals. It wasn't so hard to let his thoughts of baseball tickets live. Reality will come soon enough and perhaps he will find that season tickets for the Royals cost hard-earned money and it might be more fun to go to an occasional game than to go every week. Or maybe he will buy season tickets. There's no harm in letting him dream. My thoughts capture something I had previously missed; this particular daydream involved living in Kansas City. He didn't invite me to think on the times he ponders dreams that might take him far away; this time, God graciously let me step into a world where my son lives close. Baby steps on the daydreaming, I guess.
Later that night with a baby on my hip, the firstborn shoveling cereal (which is a snack 24 hours a day for a teenager) into his mouth, he says, "If I had season tickets to the Royals, I think it'd be really cool to take a different one of my brothers or sisters to each game with me."
Be. Still. My. Heart.
I want to dance and shout, "Yes. Yes. Yes. Let's daydream about these Royals tickets a little more."
But the conversation is over to him, not open for discussion, and his cereal bowl and spoon head for the sink. He passes me on the way out and leans in to kiss the baby that has stolen his heart. For a moment, I'm allowed to reach out and touch his slightly prickly baby face as he connects his heart to his little sister's. Maybe daydreaming hurts a little more these days because the dreams don't generally include him being near enough for me to reach out and touch him.
Three years left to daydream. Three years to conversationally explore all of the wonderful places that God could possibly lead him. Three years to browse the depths of his future hopes and dreams before the reality of where they might lead takes shape. The dreams are safe in the confines of our Tahoe. While they involve this mama walking down paths that don't include me, the mere fact they are voiced should bring joy. My firstborn's invitation to dream with him says, "Come with me down this path and dream with me of all I might do." Daydreaming beside him is enough.
The four-year old runs down the stairs wearing a baseball glove and a football helmet.
"I'm going to be a professional baseball player AND a professional football player."
The firstborn smiles knowingly. Those used to be his future dreams and hopes.
Time has a way of changing dreams.
The teenager grabs his football and the too small baseball glove and says,
Well then, let's go practice, NoJo.
I'm so glad the firstborn isn't a dream killer.
As they roll on the ground and wrestle in the grass and catch fly balls and receive passes from "Peyton Manning" and dream of all the plays that involve the four-year old being the star, I beg for another opportunity very soon to dream with the eldest.
Sweaty and smelly, the "practice" session outside doesn't last long and they re-enter the house with laughter.
The oldest looks bright-eyed and free from the walls that sometimes guard his heart.
The baby is fussing, breakfast is splattered on the counter, and there is math to be taught, but I sense there's a daydream somewhere waiting to be explored.
Grab your keys, Zach.
Let's go for a drive.