Green Clementine

Being a better human, lessons from a teenager: What my 17 year son is teaching me…

By Claire Buckland

April has been a milestone month, I launched my company, Green Clementine. I turned 40 (gulp looks like I may need to be a proper grown up!) and right at the beginning on the first, yes April Fool’s Day, my son, Jonathan celebrated his 17th birthday and today he passed his driving test.

Naturally everyone is proud of their offspring and of course I am no different, however, allow me the indulgence of reading on and finding out just what a difference he has made to my world, and the very important lessons I am learning from him. This past year he has demonstrated what an exceptional young man he is and how he is maturing into a young adult and all round decent human being.

Lesson one: Motivation

You may think I have this one nailed. I’d like to think I have, however, I am in awe as to how tenacious and engaged he can be. I’m still learning and know he is too but I look to Jonathan for inspiration and to remind myself of my goals.

On his birthday, rather than go to a football match to watch his beloved team or go out driving on the roads for the first time he went with his fellow students to the Forest of Dean for a 26k trek in preparation for his trip to Borneo next year. He had made a commitment and was going to stick to it!

Months ago, Jonathan told me how he would buy a car and pass his theory test as soon as he could after turning 17 and would undertake an intensive driving course so that he could drive himself and his friends to Sixth Form to a) avoid taking the bus a journey of 1.5 hours and b) gain valuable experience on the road in advance of him getting a job when he leaves. Jonathan worked out that he was the first of his friends to turn 17 and could help them get to and from Sixth Form more efficiently if he was to drive too. Jonathan has just passed his driving test which has taken a huge commitment and dedication, not to mention the money which he has saved up for to pay for lessons and buy and insure a car.

Jonathan wants to work in finance and wants to be an Actuary (I had to look this up!). He has worked out what grades he needs; the dedication required to get the results at AS and A Level; the different career paths and education options – apprenticeships looks the preferred option; likely employers and work experience needed to achieve this. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will succeed.

Lesson two: Let it go

No this isn’t where I break into song. I know I have a tendency to over-think and analyse situations or am quick to respond and live life at a million miles an hour. Jonathan has taught me and often tells me to “let it go”, or “slow down”. He has such a positive outlook and believes everything will be right and turn out well. He dislikes conflict and prefers to walk away. He seems to intuitively know what is worth fighting for and when best to “leave it mum!” He chooses his battles and succeeds in maintaining peaceful relations. He remains calm under pressure and takes everything in his stride.

Lesson three: Generosity and Kind-heartedness

Whether it’s time or friendship or money, Jonathan gives. He makes time to speak to and visit both his grandmother and elderly great-grandmother. He knows they like to see him and want to hear his news. He makes time for his friends and showed me a text the other day from a friend thanking him for being the best mate anyone could have. I asked where that had come from and he explained he listened and made his friend feel safe as he gets very low, as he suffers from depression.

The skills he has developed and behaviours I continue to observe give me the encouragement to be a better person. It has enhanced my faith and confidence in him, in our future generations and human beings. Thank you, Jonathan for helping me to be a better human being and enabling me to be a proud mum. I hope I never stop learning and continue to be curious about people.