Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tyler's Night

As you may know, our six kids are out of the house. Our last one, Michael, has spent the last couple of months at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT learning Portuguese since he'll be spending the next 2 years in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

He has really changed his attitude in just the last 2 months. He now appreciates and even expresses love for his mom and dad. This is a dramatic shift. I am so glad Mike is on a mission. Great miracles can occur in life and this is one of them. The last couple of years Mike couldn't stand to be at home. The only thing he really wanted was to be gone from home and partying with his friends. If there was anything going on within a radius of 100 miles from our house, he wanted to be there and not here.

They shipped him to Boston last week for a temporary reassignment until he got his visa. A few days ago he finally got his visa and was sitting in the Boston airport waiting to fly out. He was allowed to call us and one of the things that really struck me was his comment "I'm not too homesick but..."

It would have had less effect if I had been struck with a bolt of lightning. Not too homesick? This was tantamount to him saying "I am so homesick I would honestly give my right arm if I could just come home and see my mommy and daddy again. I miss you so much! I am so sorry I gave you so much trouble. I love you and mom so much that it hurts. I will never again want to leave the confines of my childhood home." And so on.

His admission was a ground-shaking change of attitude. Thank heavens for missions. Our little independent and somewhat self-centered boy has just turned into a knowledgeable and gracious young man who has finally realized a few important things in life. I am now in love with the phrase "I'm not too homesick but...."

One last note on Mike. A couple of weeks ago he wrote us. He had been cooped up and in a very rigid and intense language training environment for the previous month and a half. He was studying a foreign language 10 or 12 hours each day with no opportunity to just hang out or go to the mall or text or date. He mentioned that it was very hard but he was doing ok. He then said something like "I heard two other missionaries talking the other day and they said that they went outside and got to pet a dog. I am so jealous."

I laughed and felt pleased that the MTC guys had actually been successful in keeping him under control.

My wife remarked that when he gets to Brazil and after getting bitten by one or two mangy mongrel mutts, he'll no longer feel the need to pet a dog.

Anyway, back to my statement that we no longer have our kids at home. This is true. However, we do have Tyler. Tyler has been with us this year. He's my cousin's kid who is up here for his high school education. This is his last year. He has turned from a rebellious redheaded 8th grader who was ready for jail in Utah into a fine young man who has been accepted into BYU and wants to serve a mission. He lived with my sister next door for four years and has spent this last year with us. That is a whole 'nother story.

Tyler doesn't like to dance. He's almost 6 feet tall, big and he would want me to say muscular and struggles a bit when it comes to shaking a leg on the dance floor. He's tried to dance at church functions but has discovered it's not his thing. He claims that he gets paired up with a girl who stands three and a half feet tall and is then expected to do a swing dance that requires him to sashay himself under her arm which he claims is a physical impossibility.

After the last dance he came home from he emphatically stated he would never go to another dance.

I must admit that I've strongly encouraged him to go to dances as I felt the activity would help his social skills.

So last night he told us he was going to a church dance in Pasco. I was shocked he was going and asked him why. He said the bishop asked all the young men to go and dance with the young women. I guess this was done to keep all the youth busy and not feeling left out.

So he wasn't going for the dance, He was going only out of respect for our good bishop. I marveled at the change in attitude this kid has gone through since he showed up here 5 years ago. It is almost a bigger change than Mike has experienced over the last couple of months in the MTC. I don't care what the naysayers say, church is good.

So he went. When he left, he claimed he was going to dance one or two dances and then come home. I was pleased to see him not get home until midnight. It must have been a good dance.

This morning I asked him how it went. He got a little huffy and said he danced quite a bit but one of the adult leaders continually harassed him to stay out on the floor. Every time Tyler came back to the sidelines from dancing, the guy would walk up to him and tell him to get back out there and dance. A couple of times the fellow grabbed and squeezed his shoulder blade which provided Tyler the temptation to do something that would put him back into the juvenile justice program. However, since Tyler is now 18, if he had punched the guy he might have ended up in a more adult environment. He was not happy about this dance-enforcement officer.

At one point the well-meaning man walked up and did the same to one of Tyler's friends. Tyler's bud turned to the guy and said "Number one, do not touch me again. Number two, do not tell me what to do." The fellow released his grip and walked away, probably looking for an easier mark like Tyler.

I have to admit, sometimes we as adults take it a little too far in trying to get our kids to follow our instructions.

Toward the end of the dance, Tyler was sitting at a table with his phone on the table. The previously-mentioned dance promoter walked by and saw Tyler's phone. I guess he took offense that Tyler would have his phone out instead of being out on the dance floor. He asked him if that was his phone. Tyler fibbed and said no. The guy said ok, looked a little bewildered and started to walk away.

Tyler reached for the phone to put it back in his pocket. His adult counterpart saw this from the corner of his eye and turned around and grabbed for it. They ended up in a tug-or-war with the phone being the rope. I guess the rubber cover of the phone started stretching out which escalated the tension between the combatants. Tyler told the gentleman to let go immediately. The guy must have realized he had overstepped his bounds and released his grip.

Another dance that Tyler didn't enjoy. Another dance where he probably didn't pick up much in the way of social skills.


Chelsea said...

Good for Michael. That makes it all worth it.

Phil and Holly said...

Good for Tyler too, don't take crap from anybody.. including Ben!

Carylee said...

I agree with you on many points. 1 church is good. 2 We adults over step our boundaries and forget what it was like to not want to be somewhere or socially how difficult it can be for some to go outside of their comfort zone just to be there, not to mention be obedient and dance. 3 I sure miss those dances...:)