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Sudie Crouch: Standing at the edge of seventeen
Kristyn Lapp, Unsplash

 “He’s such a polite and well mannered young man.”

Cole’s doctor told me this after his last visit. I smiled and thanked him. 

“He really is a terrific kid,” the doctor continued. “You and his dad have done a fine job.”

“We didn’t really have anything to do with it,” I said. 

“You absolutely did. He is definitely a representation of your parenting.”

I graciously accepted his praise, but in all honesty, I can’t take the credit for how well my son behaves. 

He has always been this way and we haven’t had to do much parenting by way of disciplining or teaching him right from wrong. 

He just seemed to be born with a solid moral compass, an almost intuitive ability to read someone’s character, and a compassionate, helpful heart. 

The only thing he has ever really gotten upset over was the fact he hates paying taxes on things and expects me to cover that for him. That and shipping fees. 

I’ve seen him show great selflessness at his 3rd birthday party, when the pinata was smashed and the candy fell to the ground, and one child was not getting as many pieces as the other kids. 

Cole got beside her and grabbed candy to put in her bucket, and to make sure she had some of the good ones, he took some out of his own. 

He has been my favorite sidekick, going places with me to keep me company when he was little, and now that he’s bigger, to make sure I’m safe. 

With each passing day, I’m in awe at how fast time has gone. A friend once said the days were long but the years were short and I can understand that now. 

He’s on the edge of 17, a year closer to being what’s considered an adult, where he’s straddling both worlds of adulthood and still being a child. 

He may not like it when I still call him baby, but it doesn’t matter to me how old he is. In my heart’s eye, he’s still that little boy with the big blue eyes, looking up at me as he held my hand.

Watching your baby grow up is such a tough thing to do, too. There’s moments of just overwhelming pride at the person he’s becoming, and how he’s finding his own way and what he wants to do with his life. But there’s also those moments of fear, anxiety, worry, and anger when someone may wrong him. 

Letting him fight his own battles has been one of the hardest things for me to do. Even when I know it can help him find his own strength as he becomes a man. My way of doing things is a lot different than the way he does, and sometimes I am amazed at the grace and way he handles situations. 

It catches me off guard, sometimes, how quickly he’s grown and matured, almost like a magician’s illusion. You keep your eyes on it, but somehow they do a sleight of hand to pull the quarter out from behind your ear. 

It was not that long ago he was going with me to cover sporting events, as my backup reporter, armed with his own little camera and notebook to write down the scores and take photos. 

He loved every second of it, and expected to be taken for some kind of chicken afterwards, even though he had already racked up about $20 worth of snacks at each concession stand. I’d joke that I went in the hole on those days, but it was worth it.

We’ve played Battleship and Trouble for hours on end, and watched marathons of his favorite shows, with a bowl of Jiffy Pop and peanut M&M’s between us. 

I am grateful that other people see what a great kid -— young man — he is, but it’s truly just who he’s been all along. 

He’s been the easiest child to raise, and the only thing I can possibly think that we did, was we’ve just enjoyed every second of him. We’ve always been saddened when we heard some parents complain about their children, knowing those words can be so painful. 

Instead, we’ve always tried to let him know above all else, he was loved unconditionally. 

Maybe what those people are seeing when they comment on his kindness is not so much parenting but just love in action. 

As he steps into this next year, I hope he carries that love and compassion with him always. 

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.