|(Grant, Ryan, Nick, Sean)|
First Sunday of summer break
At age twenty, Ben is becoming an old pro at this feat. He started his forty-hour-a-week labor job last week. Up at seven, he knows that improper balancing of fun and responsibility lead to long work days. Needless to say, he is taking full advantage of this long Memorial Day weekend, knowing his Tuesday 6:30 a.m. wake up call will be here soon enough.
But it does typically take about a week for Ben to make the full adjustment. Grant is in that one week zone right now. With finals completed last Thursday at noon and a week off before summer football begins, I can hardly hold him down.
"But, Mom, it's my first day of summer!" (response to my request to help move a relative)
"But Mom, it's my first weekend of summer!" (response to my list of chores and other family weekend responsibilities)
Oh, to be sixteen again.
As a seasoned forty-eight year old, I am well aware that every day is the first day of something. I love an excuse for fun, but I also know that the responsibilities in my life don't just go away. Ignored, they will either build up or blow up.
Now the tricky part is to teach this to an uber-social sixteen year-old. With a seemingly large box of chocolates to choose from, his brain is in constant overdrive. But if he forgets to brush his teach or doesn't stop to offer some of his chocolates to others, the novelty will soon wear off.
I know this to be true. Trying to convince a sixteen year-old that I do have helpful knowledge (and that I ultimately call the shots) is not an easy task. But somehow, although many times painful, we seem to get there. Responsibility does eventually get weaved into his social calendar.
Today I was reminded of the relevance of 'the path of least resistance'.
I first thought about it last night with Grant. He was bucking me on wanting friends overnight and with their own Sunday agenda. It would have been so easy for me have said 'uncle' and let him run. My teenage debater can wear a mother down.
As our conversation on these logistics began last night, the path of least resistance seemed so tempting. I could have given in and let him run his show while I enjoyed a quiet Saturday night at home. The thought of waking up to a relaxed pace of coffee and news reading before church with no teenagers was equally alluring.
But with better judgment, I chose the other path (the one with the most resistance). This one deals with teenage pleadings and incessant attempts to negotiate the situation. Exhausting. But in the end, my persistence and firm message prevailed.
Three of Grant's friends spent the night last night, but knowing we would all be attending 11:00 a.m. mass in the morning together. And with no arguments or further discussion.
And that's exactly what happened. With Garrett in the driver's seat, we piled into my car and walked into the Boys Town church doors with ten minutes to spare. Father Val Peter, the eighty-two year-old patriarch of Boys Town parish soon walked to the pulpit. A surprise to me as I hadn't seen this priest, whom I admire greatly, in years.
I have long loved the mission of Boys Town. As a young girl I remember touring the campus during a family vacation to Omaha. On my bookcase is an hardback book on Father Flanagan that was owned by my grandmother. Neatly folded inside is her tour map and notes from her own trip in the 1960's.
Once I became an Omaha resident, I enjoyed many years of events on Boys Town campus and friendships with the people who continue it's great mission and run the many facets of this institution today.
But there is something specifically about Father Val that will always make me smile. Although most of my observations of this colorful character are from afar, I once spent the day with him at an archdiocesan retreat. I was thrilled to find out that he was the real deal. As genuine as they come.
Today I was again reminded of his great heart and conviction. Val gave his trademark sermon (short but spot-on) with the four boys sitting to my left listening to his every word. The words were few, but powerful, and weaved in with a real life Val story. I sat through mass watching the quirky priest while being constantly reminded of how much I like the man.
Although it's easy to feel affection toward Fr. Val, I have a high degree of admiration for him as well. After pondering how best to summarize this to my non-Omahan husband, it became clear to me.
In the many, many years of Fr. Val leading Boys Town, he has always governed by doing the right things for the right reasons. I have never observed him taking the path of least resistance. Ever. Stories on Fr. Val center on his passion for what is right, pushing him to most times take the difficult paths. And I greatly admire him for it.
The path of least resistance is the easy way out. I see it happen all the time in both my professional and personal life. I have never observed those employing this approach with thoughts of 'gee, I want to be just like them'. Rarely are these actions remarkable or with a lasting positive impact.
No pain, no gain applies outside of physical activity.
So my little bit of pain in teenage battling led to a nice mass for all of us. Father Val was just frosting on the cake. And a great reminder of how eighty-two years of doing good and fighting the hard battles can pay off and create a lasting positive impact.