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.
We never know what serves as motivation, and I am not an overprotective mother.
Now where did that come from?
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.
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.