Working with Horse Boy and Movement Method makes you an expert in helping others- but I noticed, I am still a wife and mother, and often it is challenging to support and understand the ones closest to you.
With college right around the corner, high school finals, IB assessments, Senior luncheon, Senior breakfast, it seems the distance and realization of our teenager spreading his wings is more real than I am ready for. It feels like losing him. Yes, of course everybody tells you this will come, but nobody really describes the fears and the pain while having to smile, encourage, and make it the biggest adventure ever.
The first “aha” I had to figure out- especially difficult as an educator where you have all the background knowledge how children and teens should behave and develop- I had to let go of the instructing parenting aspect- parenting as in loving, being there yes; parenting as in life lesson discussions and smart life advice, absolutely not! We started going out for one dinner a night, just Liam and I, and I just “LISTENED”. I asked open ended questions- truly interested questions (because they know if you fake it), and “LSITENED” (no cell phone, no time pressure, NO Judgement! Not easy to do- especially having done some of the stupid stuff and made those stupid choices, no life advice!)
This started to really connect us, and he started to trust, telling me things I often did not even want to hear. But I became an outlet, a trusted ally in the battle of crossing over from teen to adult.
For his 18th birthday, I surprised him with lessons in Falconry- the best experience yet! He requested not having “things” for his special day, but an experience he could store in his heart and memory- what a challenge. I recalled that when he was 5 years old, we went to a bird show in Holland- Keukenhof (if you ever get to go in spring time, it is where they have millions of beautiful colorful tulips, the typical Dutch experience). And they put on a birds of prey show. Liam was the lucky kiddo who got to experience a beautiful light brown colored hawk landing on his arm- since then, he has talked about that experience.
It disappeared a little in our memory box until talking to Rupert and him suggesting that Liam needed adventure. I started thinking hard of what that might look like, and birds of prey came to mind. Now, as an experienced outdoor person, Rupert was the first one who came to mind to investigate this further. His answer, ‘yes, falconry is still very active in Scotland- take him!’
Being a dreamer and a little out there- his comments were encouraging, but very unrealistic for my current life situation to fly to Scotland. So, plan B. I started investigating, and coincidently, not even 30 min from us, the Broadmoor offers beginner and intermediate Falconry lessons.
The experience was incredible! Liam had an expression on his face that I have not seen in ages. He felt empowered, connected to nature, and even though just a short period of time, learned to appreciate the freedom, the power, and the elegance these beautiful creatures transferred and shared. Masters in the air, wisdom in their eyes, the basic instinct of the hunt in every move and navigation- a basic reconnect with human natural needs. Everything else was forgotten as he hiked with a hawk through the fields. The bird taking off, disappearing, only to come back at a low whistle; soaring right by his head, the wings gently sweeping touching his face.
Why do I share this? Reconnect with your teen! LISTEN to their interests. This will be the make and break of your adult relationship with them! If you instilled good human values, now is the time to appreciate this young person in front of you. This is the time to see what amazing human they have become. Don’t alienate them with sermons and pretention of knowing it all, or even knowing it better. Don’t waste this precious time!
Follow your teen!