Being a Dad to Teenagers
We believe that 2018 is going to be an incredible year for All Things New and over the next couple of weeks we are going to be sharing some of the reasons for that in this blog. As followers of Christ, we understand that GOD controls our future and we are relying on Him to do great works through our organization, but we also believe that He desires for us to plan and to do our best to be prepared for the wonderful things He has in store for us. I am sure that you have noticed many of the changes that have taken place within the structure of ATN over the past year including new board members, a new team structure that we would love to have everyone involved with (click here for more details), and a renewed focus on sponsorship/church partners/business partners. We believe that these changes will help us to continue moving forward with the ministry of All Things New as GOD calls us to continue to follow Him. Our first blog in this series will be about our Jacksonville Fundraiser on March 2 at Deerwood Country Club and that blog will be coming soon so stay tuned! (and also click here for more info and to register)
I wanted to write this blog prior to moving into our series because of some of the events of the past few days. I also do not want to mislead anyone reading this because, while I am Elijah and Sophie’s Dad, I am unfortunately not Herbison’s, Woodly’s, Kervinson’s, Apolon’s, Tony’s, Woodlerxe’s, Son Son’s, Maekin’s, Vageley’s, Mivinsley’s, Yolmenda’s, Misthafa’s, BiGuedy’s, Dinna’s, Hiwerli’s, Malayika’s, Fedeline’s, Gladine’s, Somara’s, or Tilene’s Dad. I wish I were. One of my greatest dreams would be for each of these kids to know the love of a Dad. I love them and I am their Father figure and Jess and I take care of them the best way we know how to, but I am not their Dad. I cannot believe how blessed I am that I have had a Dad for my whole life who was always there for me no matter what. He had a birthday recently and it made me realize that very few people in the world get to have the type of relationship with their Dad that I do, but every child deserves a Dad like Bill Bush.
When I rode with Herbison for the first time the other day and showed him where the parking brake was and how to put our truck into first gear going up a hill it was fun and it was a little scary a couple of times, but it was also a little sad. As much as I care about Herbison and would do anything I could possibly do to help him and to show him that he is loved, I do not live with him, I cannot give him guidance on a daily basis, and I did not know him for the first 13 years of his life. But on that day, when I was riding with him and giving him some pointers about driving (someone else had already given him some lessons) and talked to him about his first job (we are going to pay him to take trash from our house and the kids’ house to a local dump rather than burning it) it gave me a glimpse of having teenage children. I began to realize how proud I am of them for who they are becoming and what they can accomplish. Herbison drove me about a mile and I was just amazed that this kid, even though he is 18, could get behind the wheel of a truck and drive me somewhere. I felt this sense of pride in Herbison that I also feel for Yolmenda, Fransline, Woodly, Kervinson, and the rest of the kids when they progress even in small ways. When I see their report cards and know how hard they worked, when they score a goal, see a plan to completion, worship in church, or even just show responsibility for small things I feel a sense of pride that I get to be a part of their lives. Do I get annoyed with them, absolutely, and on a pretty regular basis. They are teenagers and there are 13 of them, and they do some pretty questionable things almost daily. But at the same time, I am just proud of who they are becoming.
I also recently sat down and had a conversation with a young man in our neighborhood about his interest in one of the young ladies with ATN (I will not name names so don’t even ask), and I felt way more protective than I ever realized I would. I wanted this kid to feel intimidated and nervous to even consider talking to one of my girls. I tried to make sure he saw how much bigger I was than him (I know this is juvenile and I probably shouldn’t admit it but it is true), I made him come and knock on our door and come onto my turf to discuss his intentions, and I am pretty sure I said the words, “I will know everything you ever say to her and I will read every message you ever send to her so always think of me standing beside you when you talk to her.” We are not sure what is going to come from this interest if anything, but I could not believe how protective I felt and how uneasy I was that someone was even the least bit interested in one of our girls. I cannot believe that Phil even let me near Jessica or my Dad was ok with Jason and Rusty (my 2 brothers-in-law) even speaking to my sisters. I am sure it gets better and especially once you get to know and like them, but that initial shock was a little difficult to take. The young man is in college studying to be a lawyer, he was very well-spoken, and I know and like his family but none of those things changed my mind about how little he deserved the attention of our girl.
I think the point of this blog was to vent a little and to show you how we feel about our kids here. At the same time, if any of you have any good “parenting teenagers advice” feel free to give it to me, because I am not sure I was ready for some of this stuff. I mean I have a 2 year old and an almost 1 year old, it is not really my time to be thinking about these kind of things yet is it? But just keep us in your prayers as we strive to do the best we can for our kids here and try to help them become the men and women GOD wants them to be.