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By Sharon Courmousis, Sacred Rocks Reserve
August 23, 2012 (Boulevard)--I have a tree at Sacred Rocks, planted 5 years ago, a Purple Robe Locus. The tree specialist explained to me about watering, and nutrients, and pruning. Because I am away a lot, I have to trust people to do those things for good tree health. Last fall the wind whipped a large branch off, nearly cutting the tree in half. I thought we would lose the tree. But no! It survived.
The wonderful happening is that an arriving worker for the summer season was a master plant person and had owned nurseries before. He knew how to prune and care for this tree so well it is thriving. (see photo) When I mentioned staking the tree to grow straight, he said after a certain time, staking only weakens the tree because it does not have to put down deep roots and when grown, the staked tree will be easily toppled. Got me thinking…..
It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Can I use the tree lesson in my life? Is the tree my teacher? Let me ask you, have you ever had a sixteen year old to raise? Here are some clues: the person knows everything and how to do it all the time, this person lives in a refugee camp disaster area, this person drinks a gallon of milk every day and never eats vegetables and is always healthy, this person is very smart and does way under his ability at school, this person is accused of ADD but can spend a thousand hours building a robot for competition, this person treats everything said by the adult in charge as a challenge until argument happens. And now he drives! AyAyAy! Can I apply my lesson about trees in this situation?
I am coming to believe that from now on, it is my responsibility to encourage, not tell my child how to live. If I keep telling and rescuing him from his mistakes I will actually harm his future, just like a stake kept too long fastened on a tree, weakens it. Certainly as long as my child lives with me, boundaries must be clear. For example: when leaving the house I must know where he is going, who will be with him, and what time he is returning. His room must be clean and tidy at least weekly. Grades must be at a minimum level. Either sports or a job is a requirement for after school. Like taking the stake away from the tree it is time to stand back and let the young man live his own lessons. And feel the consequences of wrong decisions without being rescued. And also feel the satisfaction of a good decision.
My parents taught me a good lesson in parenting. We would go to the and say "we want to do x". They would say "have you thought about y, about z?" and they   would say "if that takes you happy, then go for it". Same conversation when I decided to go to Africa at age 19.  I know they were concerned for my safety and well-being, but they let me go anyway. They showed me how to make well thought out decisions and then they stood back and let me. 
My hope is this that I have taught my sixteen year old how to make well thought out decisions. And I hope I have the courage to stand back and let him.
The best lessons parenting lessons have come from my own parents. It is not what they say, but what they do, I observed. They decided to be happy. They have fun together. They have purpose even at age 79 and 84 - they grow 1268 grapefruit trees that produce fruit for market. And they are always ready to listen to their children, never offering advice unless asked. I now understand they grew us like trees, and our fruit is productive and happy lives. 
In thinking over these lessons in parenting, I ask myself "how do my kids see my life? What do they understand through my choices, my work, my time". Do they see I work at being healthy through exercise and good food choices? Do they see I am grateful to God for safety on the roads and for good health and for our family? Do they see my creative self-expression by my quest for learning such things as weaving, photography, writing, cooking, decorating and teaching? Do they notice I am a good listener and a helpful life coach? What does my life say to them?
Readers, what does your life speak?

The Purple Mountain Sage welcomes questions from readers!  Write to us at: sacredrocksreserve@gmail.com, attention Sharon Ann.  The Purple Mountain Sage is Sharon Ann Courmousis, owner of Sacred Rocks Reserve and RV Park, a 163-acre, HIGH DESERT, wilderness preserve and campground in Boulevard, CA, which is also home to the vision of Sacred Rocks Learning Center and Artists’ Colony.  Sharon Ann can be reached by calling: 619-766-4480.  Visit the Sacred Rocks Reserve website at:  www.sacredrocksreserve.com.  Advice From the Purple Mountain Sage is an opinion column written for The East County Magazine.  Opinions stated within are those of the writer. 

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