So what is time? If no one asks me, I know; If I want to explain it to a person who asks, I do not know anymore and yet I affirm with certainty that, had nothing passed, there would not be future time, had nothing existed, there would not be present time.

St. Augustine

Time is never more apparently passing than when you are a momma. My heart cannot keep up with how quickly my children have each changed from tiny, helpless babies who only wanted my arms around them, or to crawl and play, and now they are thoughtful, complex young people who are learning to take care of themselves and express themselves fully in the big world. It’s miraculous and heartbreaking. There is so much I cannot foresee and protect them from in the future but I am always amazed by what they’ve learned and remembered from the past.

Last night, after picking my son up from Taekwondo, we were turning the corner and I was thinking out loud and said that I smelled weed. My 12 year old son, sitting in the front seat next to me, said “yeah, I smell it, too.” For a split second I was thinking, “ugh, gross, can they not just do that at home?!”, and THEN I was thinking,”wait, what the heck!”

I asked him how he knew what it smelled like.

“Well, Daddy smokes.” Oh, yeah, you would know that. I asked if he still smoked around them, on their very rare visits.

“No, not really. Wellllll, yeah…. I guess. When we watch movies he’ll go outside to smoke then come back in.” He so guilelessly explained.

(Now, to be clear, I think marijuana should be legal, not just decriminalized and not just for medical use. But, I also don’t think my 12 year old has any business smoking it or being around it.)

That lead us into a talk about kids his age who may be starting to smoke weed or cigarettes with their friends, some who may start drinking, and even some that will start having sex much sooner than they should be. This, in my mind, makes me sound like my mother. But, in my heart, I also know, it wasn’t explained to me in a way I could understand and relate to why I shouldn’t do those things; and so, I was one of those kids who started experimenting with stuff that they really weren’t ready for, whether it was sex, drugs, alcohol, or just bad friends.

His response to me saying that some kids in his grade or maybe a year older than him were likely starting to smoke, drink, and have sex was met with wide eyes and a high pitched “What?! Why would they do that?!” My sweet summer child.

My approach was to explain that some kids want to be grown up faster than they really should be. Sometimes because they don’t feel seen or understood by their parents, or because they are already doing more than kids should do at home, like responsibilities to the household, because their parents aren’t around enough, or just because they want to do the exact opposite of what their parents say, for a lot of reasons.

He asked, “but doesn’t that stuff (smoking and drinking) taste bad?” And I told him that yes, some of it does, even to grown ups.

“So why do grown ups even do it?” I asked him what his biggest problem in life is.

“Not fitting in.” Ok, well, heck, even grown ups deal with that sometimes, and a lot of other things beyond their control. And they get worried and stressed, and those things take them away, for a little while, so their problems don’t seem so bad.

“But really,” I started…

“their problems don’t go away.”, he finished.

“Yes, exactly. It’s just like putting on a mask or playing pretend that everything is better, or not so bad, but the game has to end at some point and the problems are all still there. And, feeling like you don’t belong, that’s something lots of people struggle with their whole lives, so the best way to deal with it, is to get really comfortable with yourself. You are the only you that will ever be, and you are worth being friends with yourself.” He nodded in agreement.

“And you know, just because other kids do those things, doesn’t make it ok for them, or ok for you to do them.”

“Ugh. No way. I just can’t even wrap my brain around why they would do that. And like, who do they even do it with?”

“Well, other kids mostly, but sometimes with adults, or young adults who think it’s ok or funny. But it isn’t. And it’s dangerous for your body and for your safety. You know, even adults are sometimes not ready for the consequences of their actions when they use drugs or drink, or even when they have sex. There are all sorts of bad consequences and some of them are extremely serious.”

We talked about those consequences and how something small can ruin your life for a really long time and how sometimes even adults have consequences that hurt their hearts without ruining their lives. So, you just have to be careful in who you trust and be patient with yourself and try to make good choices so your future self can be proud of your past self.

(How was this conversation happening so randomly? Why did the Universe just suddenly decide NOW was the right time to have yet another talk about this heavy stuff?)

“Yeah, I am not ready for any of that, I just want to play ApexLegends and have fun with my friends.”

“I know you do. I am a lucky mom to have such a great kid. You know, I’m growing up as a mom at the same time you are growing up as a kid. I don’t know what I’m doing sometimes, but I’m glad you make it easy to learn things together. And, when I screw up, which I know I apologize for, I just try and do better the next time. Just like when you make mistakes, we see the mistake and try to not make the same mistake again.”

“You say that all the time, Mommy. But I think you are a good mom.”

“A good mom” from my preteen, after talking about drugs, alcohol, and sex. Despite anything else happening in my world, I won yesterday.

Had our past not been what it was, I would not be the parent I am and these two not so tiny humans would not be who they are. It’s really something to be grateful for, the things that make us. In them, I see glints of gold coming out of the fire.