Teaching Your Middle Schooler to Still Wonder

Moms of older kids always tell me it happens….. When middle schoolers begin to change. Some days are great. Some days are not so great. So they say. 

At first thought when I hear the familiar story told from a different mom, my rogue thinking about not having to be like everyone else, speaks up in my mind saying, “Who says middle schoolers always have to act the same? Who says we moms have to accept our kids changing attitudes and just live with it like everyone else? Who says we have to stop teaching them to see the good around them when their moods change? Who says we just need to let them be?”

I found myself asking, “How can I teach my son to cope on his own one day when he faces a not so bad day, but not so good day either?” What can I teach him to get himself out of a funk? 

One of the most precious memories I have of my son is the first time he understood and felt the power of wind. It is etched in my heart forever. I can still see him walking outside and waving his hands in the air noticing the wind saying in a high pitched long “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!” The wind was new to him. He had never experienced it before. He found joy in it. He wondered at it!!!!

My son doesn’t run outside anymore say “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” like he did when he was two year old. But I still want him to wonder. I want him to be a noticer of the tiniest details that God made.

As moms we get to see all kinds of moments– good ones and not so good ones. I prefer the good ones. But the not so good ones can also turn out to be great ones.

So what did I do differently when my approaching middle schooler came home having a not so good day but not awful day either?

  1. I pushed my agenda of the day to the side for moment.
  2. Drove to the park and challenged him to race me around the track. (He beat me of course! But not by much!)
  3. Asked him highs and lows of his day.
  4. Finally found out what was on his mind. And we talked.
  5. Showed him new signs of spring in the leaves growing around the dead leaves on the ground as we walked around the track.

Psalm 19: 1-2 says, “The heavens declare the Glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of his hands. Day by day they pour forth speech. Night after night they reveal knowledge.”

I love this verse because (like I told my son), God is speaking to us through his creation all the time. We don’t look at it anymore because we are busy or we don’t think it matters. But it matters!  When we don’t wonder at God’s creation anymore, we don’t wonder at him anymore.

I said to him, “Look at the spring green color! Feel the newness of the leaves! God has been up to something during the winter time with this plant!” The leaves are never this color anymore after they are in full bloom. Spring green is beautiful! Spring green at first peek reminds us God has been preparing for the spring time. Spring green reminds us winter gray days will bring spring sunny days.

I have to tell you, at that moment, I didn’t feel like I was of any help as a mom. My son didn’t say, “Yay mom! Great job at teaching me this today! I feel awesome!” But a few jokes later, a few songs in the car later, after practice later, he was smiling again. One morning a week after this “spring green” talk on our drive to morning carpool, I heard him say out loud, “Look mom! Spring green!”I almost drove off into the ditch because I couldn’t believe he wondered at it! Our kids really do hear what we say.

I also think that we as moms have to go into the place where our children are so we can experience what they feel. To let them know they are not alone. Part of my teaching him, was also part of me sharing the feeling with him. I have learned as an adult who has struggled with discouragement, to take action to get out of the funk. To move. To get outside. To remind myself of God’s truth. To change the scenery for a bit. So thats what I did with my son.

The world daily teaches our kids to see everything that is wrong with everyone and everything. The only fixer of the heart is Jesus. My job as his moms through all this journey is to be a truth pointer. To keep pointing him back to the truth that brings joy, God’s word (Psalm 19:8).

I learned that day as a mom of an approaching middle schooler I need to keep teaching my son to wonder at Gods creation around him. To keep teaching him to be a noticer of the details in God’s creation. Why? Because when we keep noticing God’s great creation, we are reminded how great our God is and how we can count on him. God doesn’t change. We do. God is at work in the gray days just like he is on the sunny days. So when we keep wondering at him through creation, we can see that He is big enough to handle our problems and our moods. And we know that joy will come again.