Monday, June 18, 2012

A Girl in the War

I was running Saturday morning in the summer morning heat. Before I crashed and fractured my toe, I was doing a little praying, a little thinking and a little dancing- this is the true runner's high- when Josh Ritter's "Girl in the War" spangled my playlist. When I listen to books and songs on runs, they take on the pain and meaning of specific runs. Last week's specific pain was centered around parenting, as much of my life is. It was parenting my girl in the war.

The girl? My teenage daughter. I can't help thinking all teenagers are on a spiritual precipice. Have you read the research on adolescent brain development? These kids think with their frontal lobes, the emotion center of the brain. They are cutting as many synaptic connections as their pre-kindergarten development built, in about the same amount of time. Thousands. They are juiced on hormones to do the work and grown the body at the same time. They make many or most decisions from this portion of their brain. Damned be logic and reason.  They take risks without the ability to calculate cost. They still need directions in three or fewer steps at a time.

Did anyone ever tell you your teenager will need you as much or more as your preschooler? Heed those words.

This is a war and the battlefield is our culture. By sixteen around 50% of our kids' peers will have had one sexual encounter. Most will have tried alcohol, nicotine or another substance- at least a monster or red bull.

Our war? Getting a girl to
  • have a spiritual life while following her passions towards an unchurched boy.
  • own her faith in a culture such as a a public school where there she didn't recognize a fellow PK with whom she spent a week at science camp as a religious kid.
  • recognize the trouble of technology which disconnects kids from their parents, siblings and friends by a bait-n-switch.
  • discern beyond the surface, where, as she put it: "I spent the week around kids who aren't virgins and their relationship with God and others seem fine.
  • realize that the only reason we kick in the 'boundaries' is because she isn't doing it herself and now is the time when she needs to be doing that.
  • live with a clear conscience because only when she is clear and true to her knowledge of right and wrong can she have trust with those around her.

So that song came on and tore me up, particularly these lyrics.
Paul said to Peter 
 "You gotta rock yourself a little harder,
Pretend the dove from above is a dragon and your feet are on fire"
And I got a girl in the war, Paul the only thing I know to do
Is turn up the music and pray that she makes it through

Because the keys to the kingdom got locked inside the kingdom

And the angels fly around in there, but we can't see them
And I gotta girl in the war, Paul I know that they can hear me yell
I have to admit a little literalism applied on 'pretend the dove from above (allusion to the Holy Spirit) is a dragon and your feet are on fire' felt like my running. I am aware that this lyric could be interpreted to pretend the Holy Spirit is like the evil dragon of Revelation, the serpent or monster against God. Or just a frightening monster that chases us. Based on a heart to heart this week, when she said dreads church, I think my daughter feels this interpretation.

I feel the need to run run run through these days. I don't know what I'm running from, except to give her and my kids some space and quiet. It's important to avoid being overbearing. I cannot over-parent right now and that is a scary tension. I have needed to lose a few runs due to lost sleep parenting at all hours when she did need me. This was one of those weeks. I think the Spirit woke me at one am so I find out that my daughter, who thought she didn't need a parent, would discover she did. Nothing like being nearly locked out of the house in the middle of the night to create that panic in child.

Both of us need music. It's okay to tune out to it sometimes. I read recently to avoid demanding too much of your teen. Give them down time. For an introvert like her and one like me, turning up music and getting away is good, as long as it's in limited doses

But I do feel "the keys to Kingdom got locked inside the Kingdom." That's how this battle feels. I feel like I'm yelling prayers up at our Savior and to his mother: "Please God, don't let her fall off this precipice. Don't let me be the one who shoves or bumps her off. Dear Theotokos, I suck as a mom; will you please take over?"

My father confessor says it's good to ask Our Lord's mom to remind me how to parent, to pray for her, and to look to the Theotokos as an example of mothering, instead of trying to go it alone.

One of the refrain lines is "I got a girl in the war and her eyes are like champagne/ the sparkle bubble over in the morning all you got is a rain." The hard part here is to realize in the morning she'll have a reservoir of mourning. We'll pick up and carry on, but what life or damage will that storm leave? Teaching her that storms leave a bit of bad and good is the hard part.

No comments:

Post a Comment