I have the strangest malady. It’s called “restless leg syndrome.” Sometimes at night I spend more than an hour kicking and turning and holding in weird positions my legs in an effort to stop the desire to move them. It’s bizarre… and very frustrating. I’m pretty sure I would test positive for ADHD were I to take a test, and as such, I can identify with children who just cannot sit still. I used to shake the whole pew at church with my knee-bouncing. But, that’s not the “restlessness” I want to address today.
This restlessness is the one that comes right before change occurs. As a military wife, I always knew when the time to move was coming soon. All of the sudden, the house I’d just loved before wasn’t right anymore. Friendships were drawing to an end because of duty station changes, and I was ready for a different job. As a Christian, I believe this restlessness was part of God’s process of preparing me for another move. As proof, I offer the fact that I have lived in this latest house for eleven years, and I love it as much as the day I moved in. I have taught at Lawton Academy for fifteen years and I am blissfully happy. And, even though Lawton does not rank high on any list of best places to live, I enjoy my life here. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
Restlessness is an indicator, as far as I’m concerned. When my students get restless, I know it’s almost time for the bell. I get restless at five-till-nine at church because I know it’s time for the sermon to conclude. When my daughter has to work late and then drive home through Chicago and walk more than a block from her car to her apartment, I get restless if I cannot reach her. Heck, I get panicked! (Too many Law and Order episodes!)
If your child is exhibiting restlessness, there’s a good chance that it’s an indicator as well. It could be that something is wrong, or it could be a sign that your child is changing. The move from elementary to middle school is a big change, and the one from high school to college is mammoth. You will see lots of restlessness in the year right before these two big changes. It is very important that you mark these restless indicators with change in your behavior, too. Part of your child’s/teen’s restlessness is due to the fear that you will not allow them to change. The new middle schooler wants to dress like her friends or play the video games his friends do. The soon-to-be-college-freshman is anxious to make his way in the world, albeit the “college” world. Any attempts to keep your child/teen as they were only cause trust issues. Those whose parents refuse to let them grow up become really good at hiding it.
Over the years I have watched a lot of actions that, had the parents known, would have gotten the child/teen in major hot water. If a parent asks me directly if his child is doing something particular, I never lie… but usually these parents don’t even ask. They think their children are willingly abiding by their too-young-for-them rules. Once these kids hit college, they tend to break all the rules that bound them before.
It’s hard to let your children grow up. The desire to protect only grows as they get older. My kids have been out of the house for five and ten years now, and I still cry when I return home from visiting them because the house seems so empty without them. It’s a short-lived cry, though… a melancholy because I have so thoroughly enjoyed the adults they have become, and the week spent with them went too fast!
I encourage you to research your kids. There are definite stages in their lives, and the best indicator that a change is about to occur is restlessness. Do your homework, and your relationship with them will grow right through these changes!