The other night I said to my husband, "That kid flies so far under the radar. He' s been home for a month, yet it's hard to tell he's been around at all!" "That kid" I am referring to is my nineteen-year-old son, Allen-Michael.
A sophomore at The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, Allen-Michael has been home on winter break since December 22nd.
God has blessed me with generally quiet children, but Allen-Michael has cornered the market on the term "strong, silent type". I swear his middle name should have been "stealth" instead of Thomas!
Allen-Michael was the kind of kid who completely entertained himself as a toddler. The kind of kid who, when he was two years old and I decided to light a candle in his room instead of using a nightlight (not sure that was my wisest parenting move), never once thought about touching it. [Even though he was in a "big boy" bed and could easily have done so].
The first characteristics that come to mind when I think about Allen-Michael are quiet and well-behaved, but even more impressive are the depth of his thoughts and his curiosity about faith.
He and I went out to lunch the other day to spend some one-on-one time together before he returns to Minnesota for his spring semester. As usual, it was full of interesting and enlightening conversation.
For example, I knew he'd been working on his application to attend school abroad next year. He has a real interest in Catholic Studies and a few months in Rome would be right up his alley. I think this would be such an awesome opportunity for him. He has also been working on an application to NET (National Evangelical Team) which is an organization of young adults who travel around the country bringing religious retreats to high school kids. Allen-Michael, whose faith in God has increased exponentially over the past few years, very much wants to share his love of the Lord with other young people.
In addition to those possibilities, he was telling me all about how he'd like to stay in Minnesota for the summer (provided he gets the research position he is applying for) to conduct a psychological survey about the correlation between delayed gratification and marital happiness. Allen-Michael has become really passionate about marriage and happiness since working as a camp counselor last summer where, for the first time, he was surrounded by children whose parents were divorced and/or working full time in order to keep their heads above water financially.
With all of these "irons in the fire" so to speak, I asked Allen-Michael what will happen if he gets accepted into all these programs he is applying for. His response, "I have been praying about these things for a while now Mom and I am sure the direction will be given to me when the time is right."
How do I clone this kid?!
Can I just say that at his age I had a newborn baby, was trying to figure out how to live on a $360 a month welfare check and still have fun on weekends? Although I had my eldest son baptized, I think that may have been the last time I saw the inside of a church until I got married (which was almost 4 years later). No lie, and not something I'm proud of.
Where this child's faith has come from is a mystery to both his dad and I since we have been less than consistent in attending to our Catholic roots. And yet, somehow he's on this faith-filled path!
I find his dedication to something greater than himself at his young age to be inspiring, and I feel very blessed to be a part of his journey. What a gift he is to me!