No Knowledge

It was an odd night of even odder dreams; an odd night because I slept eight hours (exceptional), and odd dreams as I found myself sitting behind a massive wooden desk, part of a management directive to motivate my staff with plastic boy toys. Now, now – not those toys. Strange morphing, scoping, bending wheeled and winged objects – dinosaurs and vehicles – the sort that start out as one thing and twist themselves into something else again.

You can tell I’ve done my time in the truck and transformer aisles of Toys-R-Us; but it’s been years since that particular stroll. As for the zzzzz’s (five hours is my norm), I’ll chalk that up to a migraine, a cold, and last night’s cautious cocktail of Nyquil and Excedrin, even as I ponder the power of the ninja scorpion scoop as an adult motivational tool.

Still, I woke a little dazed, uncertain as to whether I’m in Boise or Marseille, what time of year it is, what day of the week it is… you get the picture. And trudging through the usual coffee brewing and ritual teen wakening, I can’t quite shake the tatters of lingering ache, much less the scene pinned in my brain of two “suits” tussling over a bright green toy.

My conclusion?

We never know what serves as motivation, and I am not an overprotective mother.

Now where did that come from?

Those toys.

My younger son is part of my daily unwritten agenda: his schedule, his assignments, his logistical priorities especially as they pertain to these critical final weeks in his semester. We are a one car family; it requires planning. And his considerable workload motivates me to do what I can – I wake him, I feed him, I drive him, I nag him, I support him.

I have knowledge of his world at a fairly detailed level, day to day. Yet last summer, when he attended an academic program hundreds of miles away, I had no such knowledge. No knowledge of his whereabouts other than very generally. No knowledge of his safety. No knowledge of his well-being.

And I did not worry.

As for my first-born, it’s been that way for years. When he’s under my roof he follows my rules, and I keep tabs. But away at school? Or in the summer, working and wandering overseas? I miss him, I think of him, but I don’t worry. I trust who he is. I trust his decisions. I trust the parenting I have done and guidance I can give only when requested.

I have no knowledge of his daily life, no knowledge of his inner world, no knowledge of his recent friends – with the exception of what he chooses to share. And I’m comfortable with that.

As my younger son showers and readies for school, and I pop another Excedrin hoping it chases away Migraine Part Deux, I’ll note the contrast of (admitted) micromanaging and trusting to a state of “no knowledge” – and the coexistence of these two apparent extremes.

As for motivation, we are past my ability to motivate either child; they are no longer children. My 17-year old’s motivation is his own, his goals are his own, and he owns himself. While I know that the point at which I will have no knowledge of his days and nights isn’t far off, I will trust him, trust the tools I’ve given him, and the tools he has acquired on his own.

That said, perhaps I’ll pick up an anthropomorphic vehicle for the holidays all the same. He’d roll his eyes and shake his head and quite possibly enjoy the bending, scoping, twisting oddities of human invention – something we take pleasure in at any age.

© D A Wolf



  1. says

    If there is anything I’ve learned in marriage, and from the few short years of having young boys in our home it’s that a grown man still loves little boy toys :-)

  2. says

    I parent in a similar way. When they are away, I am not worried and proud that I can trust fully. But when home, my rules, and I wait for their return. sorry about the headache. It seems as I enter my forties, I am needing or at least getting less and less sleep at night. I was just expressing to my girls how proud I am that they get themselves up and out the door with no coaxing from me. That they seem to have entered the world as respectable and honest hard working young adults.

  3. says

    Your description of your worries based on proximity reminds me of my mom, and it made me smile. We’ve been in separate continents for years. We talk on the phone once a week and she’ll dole out advice and express her worries occasionally but when I’m home to visit her or vice versa and I’m out with friends at night, she doesn’t go to bed until I’m home. It used to irk me sometimes that she could deal with me living so far away and making countless life decisions on my own, yet when we’re together, she waits up for me…but as a mom myself now, I can understand.

    I will probably be the same way.

  4. says

    Ah, motivation –
    I have come to think that there is not much I can do to motivate my daughter and I am not sure that I ever could. I remember trying to get her to get ready for bed motivating her by time and races and such in which her focus was more the time over the getting ready. Finding a way of getting her to motivate herself is more the issue and for that, I am not such a great teacher as I am not completely sure what motivates me at times!
    Have a great weekend!

    • BigLittleWolf says

      My two boys were so different (still are). My older son was self-motivating and also responded well to external motivations. My younger? In his own world. I took until middle school to light a little fire on his you know what, and then something happened over the past few years. He just had to grow into it in his own time, in his own way. (Personally, I’m motivated by shoes. ;)) You have a great weekend, too!

  5. says

    My father represented the epitomy of worry. He would be pacing outside taking out the garbage at 1:00 a.m. just as my car would pull up. Of course, I knew he couldn’t sleep until I got home. At the time, I thought he was being a bit paranoid, but now as a mother I can relate to those anxiety filled strolls that he undertook.

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