03 OctMy Teen Still Wants to Talk to Me

I’ve raised five kids who are now out on their own. I have three left at home–three teenagers. You’d think I would be better at this since I have been through it so many times already. The truth is I still have fears for my children, for my relationship with my children, for the mistakes I will make in raising them. Ironically, it’s actually my teenagers who give me hope. You see, they still want to talk to me.

The other day at noon I was heading for the door in my exercise clothes. I was going to take a walk up the canyon road. It’s a mile uphill one way and a mile downhill on the way back–a natural route for all the walkers in my small town. I had just slipped out onto the porch when my seventeen year old son slipped out beside me. He was hoisting a backpack over his shoulder.

“Going to your afternoon class?” I asked.

“Going for a walk,” he answered.

My middle aged mind was slow to process this, but in a few moments I realized he was coming with me. One thing I have learned in my 32 years of raising kids is that you don’t turn your teenager away when they offer to spend time with  you. In the backpack he had water bottles for us. Thoughtful.

The day was bright with a tinge of autumn gold showing through. Summer wasn’t completely over, but it had lost its hot death grip. As we hit our stride we engaged in small talk: work, school, sibling relationships. After a quarter mile my son rather abruptly started asking questions about adulthood. “What is an adult?” and “How do you know when you are an adult?” There are actually some simple answers to these questions, but they are unsatisfactory to the one with the questions and would be considered cop-outs. My son, who is just a year away from leaving the home, was really asking, “how does a boy know he is ready to meet the world on his own?”

I don’t know if I ever asked my dad this question. I was so well taken care of I flew out of the nest hardly recognizing that I was flying on my own. My wife and I take good care of our kids, but the path I have taken is much different than the path my parents took. As an artist I struggle financially a little bit; the realities of the world are within view of my children. My son (my fourth) is aware that he must have the emotional, educational, and creative resources to successfully meet this world.

My son spoke freely about his questions and his fears. I had few answers, but we talked openly and he didn’t seem to mind. He asked about leadership and indicated that he saw leadership in me. That gave me a warm feeling inside. I’ve never considered myself much of a leader as I struggle my way through adulthood. A vote of confidence from him meant more to me than he’ll ever know.

We ended our walk with few answers to his questions, but he seemed happy. I was happy, too. I’m not a man of financial power or of big public reputation. I often feel pangs of frustration that I haven’t been more noteworthy in life. But when I come back from a walk with a smiling seventeen year old son I am forced to realize that I am a blessed man.

Books by Tory Anderson

Joey Johanaby thought his life ended when his dad died. Being forced to move into a mysterious, old, Southern mansion in Tennessee seems to make things worse. With Mrs. Johanaby struggling to learn new job skills Joey is given the difficult task of looking after the twins for the summer. The mansion is home to more than Joey and his family. Ghostly and magical characters from the mansion’s past take an interest in Joey and his struggles. They want to help, but their quirky methods are questionable. After the family is almost torn apart by a near-tragedy Joey obtains a magic map. With this map Joey goes on a journey that he might not return from—a journey that changes him forever.

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Things haven’t been the same for Jacob since his mother quit talking, eating, and getting out of bed. He is confused one morning when she wakes him with the words, “We’re leaving.” Jacob finds himself on a journey to a small town from his mother’s childhood where she hopes he will find safety before she dies. In a new town, a new school, and with a mother losing her battle with depression, Jacob’s life is turned upside-down. Lace Pearlshom, the social outcast from Jacob’s homeroom, adds to the confusion with her uncanny way of appearing out of shadows and disappearing up blind alleys. She pushes her way, unwelcome, into Jacob’s life. Lace may hold the key to saving Jacob’s mother, but can he accept the cost? In the unlikely friendship that develops Jacob learns the secrets behind Lace’s mysteries and comes to understand the tragic circumstances of her life. His efforts to help her unexpectedly brings in the Child Protective Services which is determined to take Lace away. Can a friendship this deep ever be broken? Can two broken lives make the world whole?

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After fifteen years traveling the world in the high tech industry, Tory Anderson found himself driving his first busload of kids. What started as an act of desperation turned into a life changing experience that led to courage he was lacking, and love he didn’t know he had. Bus Driver Diaries puts you in the driver’s seat with Tory to experience the world that unfolds on a bus in-between school and home. Amid the noise and frustration you will find a world of beauty, wonder, and humor. After reading this book, every sighting of a school bus will bring a smile to your face.

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About Tory C Anderson

Tory C Anderson is the father and Dad of eight children. He has been employed in telecommunication and computer technology for 25 years. Like most men, Tory has many plans for his life, but he has found that his family has been taking up most of the space. He feels no regrets. Tory's latest Young Adult novel, Joey and the Magic Map is out. You can read more about it here: http://www.ToryCAnderson.com

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