My son isn’t much of a talker. At 13 years old, I’m lucky if I can wrangle a “fine” or a “yeah” out of him — and that’s on a good day.
Like many kids his age, my son is up in his head a lot of the time, daydreaming and formulating opinions about the great big world he’ll soon be stepping into. There’s a lot to think about, a lot to plan, and a lot to know.
Knowing him, he feels it all in a very big way.
As a busy parent, I’m guilty of assuming he’s got it. He is, after all, mature, smart, and sensible, but life moves a helluva lot faster now than it did when I was 13. Whether he has, in fact, “got it” or not, I still worry about his wellness. Is my kid struggling? Is he grappling with a decision larger than himself? Is there an issue weighing heavily on his heart? If there was, would he tell me about it? If I were him, would I?
In the hustle of our everyday — when the TV’s on and we’re running late and I’m bugged by the state of his room or the way he eats spaghetti — how likely is he to share with me? Probably not very. For this reason, I make a deliberate daily effort to put aside my parental gripes and talk with my son before bed.
Yes, I tuck my teenage son into bed every night, and I have no plans of stopping now.
It’s not like our bedtime ritual is a new thing; I’ve been sitting on the edge of this kid’s bed since forever. In his younger years, we snuggled close, read bedtime stories, whispered about everything and nothing, and prayed the Lord his soul to keep. Today, while we may snuggle a lot less, our nightly prayers and whispers continue.
It’s not that every night inspires some deep and meaningful gabfest — oh no. Some nights my teen doesn’t feel like talking at all. Other nights I’ll hear about the sheep eyeball he dissected in science or how his new shoes are giving him blisters. Then there are nights when our talks delve deep into more mature matters like college life or the tricky nature of friendship. But my favorite nights are those when the house is particularly still and his mood is just right. That’s when he’ll clue me into a personal detail or two about his private self.
I’ll admit, a part of me feels relieved on the easy nights when we’re both exhausted and a nighttime prayer is all we can muster. But on the rare nights when the conversation turns to quicksand and my son is needing to be heard, I find myself particularly thankful that he’s not only talking, but that he’s talking to me.
Some might think it strange — doting mom tucking in fully capable teenage son at night — but I don’t care. Our nighttime ritual has been as much a part of this kid’s daily routine as brushing his teeth or taking a multivitamin. It’s not something I insist on; it’s not something he asks for. It’s just something we’ve always done and now that he’s older, I’m so glad we never stopped.
I’d love to tell you that tucking my son in is something I do for him, but the truth is, it gives my mom heart great comfort to know that space for tenderness and understanding exists beyond the silence, sighs, and side-eye of everyday teenage living.
Maybe sitting on the edge of a teen’s bed isn’t for every parent, maybe parental presence in personal space isn’t for every teen, but I do believe there’s a time and a place that works for both parent and child, and finding it can make all the difference.More On