The days are long but the years are short…
Yesterday my oldest turned 21 years old. Like I-can-go-buy-a-bottle-of-Jack-Daniels 21. Like give-me-a-shot 21. Like I-am-a-man 21. All day I kept thinking about the juice box drinking, Gatorade chugging, milk-shake loving little kid who can now walk into a store and buy himself a 6-pack of Corona’s if he wants. Where did the years go?
Because he only lives an hour away at college, one of the incredible perks is that we can go see him on special occasions and help him celebrate…..IF he wants us to. And knock on wood, find a four leaf clover, mount a horseshoe, or eat a bowl of Lucky Charms (not messing with fate here!!) he continues to want us around. So yesterday we all trekked to UC Davis, with Nana and Pappy in tow, to help him mark this milestone into adulthood.
My son has found an incredible tribe at college. It is everything and more than I ever prayed for. He has an amazing group of friends, correction brothers, that he has surrounded himself with. They are classmates, teammates, roommates and lifemates.
Each young man who came in greeted my husband with a handshake and me with a hug but more importantly, each young man made the effort to go to the end of the table where my elderly parents were sitting and greet them with a handshake and a hug. I sly watched friend after friend offer loving and genuine hello’s to my parents and it touched my heart. John Wooden said “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching”. In this day and age of social media and the selfie generation, to see how someone treats others, when no one is looking, is a valuable window as to who they really are.
After dinner one of the friends suggested we all go around the table and say one thing we like about my son. My chin dropped. That kind of thing is so up my alley but I know as a parent, if I had suggested it, my kids would have eye rolled me and brushed me off. It would have been another example justifying why I was “the most embarrassing parent” in the world. BUT because someone else suggested it, someone way cooler than me, it was welcomed and appreciated.
Side note: I completely forgot to slip the young man who suggested it $20 on the way out so if you are reading this Skippy, the money is on the way!
Since it was Skippy’s idea, he started. And one by one each of my son’s big macho, football playing, manly-men, shared what they liked about him. They commented on things like his passion, endless energy, commitment, being down to have fun (no matter how bad the idea is), his love for others, kind-hearted, how he treats other people, and how he is always there for his friends. Of course, someone mentioned a love for his mullet, but let’s be clear, it was not me. When it came time to his Nana, her answer was very genuine and very simple, “Everything”.
I listened to each boy share and physically felt my heart growing and expanding with so much love for these young men who have become forever friends to my son. I was overcome with gratitude for their gift of friendship and the tribe they have become. I appreciated their love for my son and their appreciation of the goofy and silly things he does. I sat back and thanked God for bringing these wonderful boys into my boys life.
But something crazy happened in the middle of the night. I woke up and it hit me, I suddenly understood what I witnessed at dinner. It all made sense. We have Newtons Law of Gravitation, something about every particle attracts others particles, blah blah blah…. I’m going to call my little epiphany this “Kelly’s Law of Attraction” and it goes like this “Goodness attracts Goodness”.
As parents, it’s hard to brag. We are taught to be humble, don’t brag, hold our tongues, be quietly grateful of who our kids are. But nights like last night make it difficult because it was so obvious, so apparent, so in my face. My son has good friends because he is a good person. My son has kind and respectful friends because he is kind and respectful. My son has silly, goofy friends because he is silly and goofy. My son has passionate and hardworking friends because he is passionate and hard working. My son has chosen men of character because he is a man of character.
I’m not saying my son is perfect. Far from it. I’m not saying he is brilliant (thank God he passed Stats the second time around!) or that he is a saint (hello hole punched in his bedroom door) or never caused any trouble (let’s forget about the time in 8th grade he used a sling shot to hit a car with a water balloon and ran because the car chased them). He is not without flaws, and he is not without challenges. Like all of us, he is imperfect.
What I am saying though, is that he is a good human being . And good human beings attract other good human beings. Good people value good people. Good recognizes good. Good morals appreciate good morals. If you have good friends, it’s because you are a good friend. I’ll take a good person over a perfect person any day.
It’s hard to say “My kid is a good person” but it’s true. I don’t take the credit and it’s not because of anything we did as parents, it’s because of the fibers that make up who he is. His personal soil is made up of love for other people, empathy for those around him and acceptance of others without judgement. You don’t need a shovel to dip deep and see his goodness, he wears it every day. He has walked this earth 21 years and he has made the world a better place simply by being a good person. I am more proud of his heart than I am of any achievement or award he has been given.
As we get close to Mother’s Day, I challenge all my friends who are Mothers, to tell their kids what they like about them and what they appreciate about them. Don’t make it about their success in school or on the field or court, make it about who they are and what lies within their heart. Gratitude is contagious and if we share what we love with our kids, they will project that love out into the world.