There was a conversation going on between two in the back seat. A third had ear buds in. My son sitting shotgun was having a hard time plugging his cell phone into the dashboard because he was distracted with telling me about his AP English teacher and how he rocks the whole world. (Thank you, Jesus, for answered prayer. Amen.) I was listening and glancing over occasionally so he'd know how intrigued I am that Mr. McWilliams understands him. I'm also navigating 5:00 traffic. Can anyone say multi-tasking?
We did the same thing on the way home, only this time in the dark. Adrian was still excited about his English class, and wants to finish the story he had started several hours previously. He gave me all the details and set the stage for what he was about to show me.
They had read aloud from an anthology textbook in class that day. This is not a textbook he can take home, but he thinks the writing was amazing. He doesn't agree with the author's contentions necessarily, but, oh, the writing is just so amazing that he doesn't think he will be able to sleep tonight. Even in class he thinks of me, the only other person he knows who loves words like that. He just has to share them with me, so he takes careful pictures — five of them in succession so as to capture the entire selection.
While he was pulling out his phone and calling up pictures to read the piece to me, a new song started on the radio. Three teenie-bopper girls in the backseat began to bop. And sing.
(Go ahead and hit play on the embedded video below for the same effect we felt in the car while you read the rest of my story.)
At that very moment the girls began to sing the most infectious song ever, loud enough for God in heaven to hear them. Adrian took a deep breath to protest as loudly as humanly possible, hoping to overpower not one, but all three girls behind him. I knew what was coming and braced myself with the steering wheel for the oncoming collision of teen wills. But his inhale became a gulp and he paused. I took my eyes off the road long enough to see what had happened. I watched him exhale, deflate, and set his phone in his lap in one movement, as if he had surrendered.
The car was rocking side to side to the beat of the music and Adrian began moving both hands up and down alternately, a scale in mid-air. There was a far-off look in his eye with a hint of a smile as he considered his choices. With his left hand weighing heavy, he says, "World War III or... [and tipping the scale to the right] ... or happy singing." He shrugs a shoulder. "I'll just read it to you when we get home, Mom."
And that's when you know that they're growing up. When they see beyond themselves and put others first right in the midst of the circumstance. When they put on hold their own amazing words so someone else can sing happy. When doing so feels good and seems right, and he can tap his toe and sing along.