I have an eleven-year-old son which, for some reason, immediately conjures up the phrase no man's land.  There's just something about an eleven-year-old boy that seems so in-between.  He wants to be a man, he wants to play football, he wants me to teach him how to drive in parking lots.  And yet, he's scared to start middle school (okay, I don't care what age you are, any one would be scared to start middle school), he still tenderly holds my hand when we're alone, and he doesn't know what to do with his feelings.

The other day we were driving around and I asked him about school starting…how do you feel about it, bud?  Not good, he said.  What about it is not good, I asked.  I don't know, he replied.

Okay then.  Glad we had this heart to heart, I'm thinking.

This all-too-familiar exchange with him…me asking questions, him answering in less than a handful of monosyllabic words…made me think back to something a guy friend said to me years ago.  I was asking him what he felt about something and he said, without batting an eye and in all honesty, "If I ever figure out what I feel about something, I'll tell you."

I have never forgotten that one line.  Probably because I couldn't relate in the least.  I'm the kind of girl who knows what I'm feeling.  I'm the kind of girl who can name what I'm feeling, even if it's seventeen feelings all at once.  And I can tell you to what degree and in order of priority.  I'm the kind of girl who journals about her feelings and, for the most part, knows how to express them.  Whether anyone else in my immediate world wants me to or not.  I get feelings.  I love feelings.

As a mom, I believe it's my responsibility to send my kids out into the world knowing what they feel about something and how to express it in a healthy way.  To realize that my son, if left to his own devices, would grow up like my guy friend and have no idea what he is ever feeling, let alone how to express it, was just unacceptable to me.

So when we got home, I sat down at my computer and wrote up a list of six common feelings, along with their definitions, a list of synonyms, how to know when that's what you're feeling, and how to express that feeling in a healthy way.  And that list was our bedtime story that night.  It went so well, that he even asked me to "go over that one again" because I apparently struck a chord with one of them.  That list is taped next to his bed.  That list, I hope, is just the beginning of many good conversations as I prepare my son for the world. 

And, future daughter-in-law, you're very welcome.

Here, by the way, is my list…feel free to use it, add to it, whatever…


Definition: in high spirits; satisfied

Synonyms: blessed, can't complain, cheerful, content, delighted, ecstatic, glad, grateful, joyful, laughing, peaceful, playful, thrilled