Note: This post is part of Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs, where all the cool kids are hanging out. (Moms are welcome over there!) I *might* even have a column called “Teen Angst” there. Welcome to my visitors from DB; thanks for stopping in!

I have written about the younger boy in terms of his teenaged moodiness, comparing it to frogs and John Belushi. The teenaged hormones in general? Well, they can suck it. However, I am pleased to report that in our house, it seems we have turned a corner. Michigan J. Frog-style regressions are few and far between these days, and it seems like we are starting to see more and more everyday the man he is going to be.

The other day he said something that impressed me so much it almost made me cry. It was after school, on the very first day. Once he walked in the door from the bus stop, I asked him how school was, and we were off to the races. I was thrilled that his excitement for starting ninth grade at the brand new high school had not been anticlimactic for him; in fact, that’s an understatement. Once I asked the question, he quite literally did not stop talking to me for 2 1/2 hours. He talked while I finished up my computer work, while I accompanied him to the kitchen for an after-school snack, in the car on the way to the store to pick up some school supplies, and in each and every aisle of the grocery store.

I asked him which of his good friends were in classes with him, and he started going through each and every class, naming friends. By that point in our extended conversation, as he named names it made me think of Harlan Pepper naming off all of the different kinds of nuts to his mother, and then he told me something that re-grabbed my full attention and filled me with pride from my head to my toes.

He said, “At lunch? Let’s see…well, lunch wasn’t so good because Iggy (I’ve changed the kid’s name) came and sat by me.”

I said, “I thought you and Iggy were pretty good friends. You hung out with him and Ozzy (also not a real name in this case) last year quite a bit.”

Before reading on, make sure you are sitting down (you probably are), because this part is amazing.

He replied, “Yeah, but I stopped being friends with them months ago, because I realized that I didn’t like my personality when we were all friends. Hanging out with them made me act like a person who I don’t want to be, so I decided it would be best to find other friends.”

As a parent, it doesn’t get much better than that. For a boy who is fourteen and a half, that is truly a profound realization, one that I myself didn’t completely learn until seven years ago at the age of 33. And I told him that. I put one arm around him and squeezed, right there in the middle of the grocery store, telling him how proud I am of him that he came to that conclusion all on his own. I also reinforced his good decision by telling him–the truth–that I have indeed noticed so many improvements in the way he’s acted over the last several months and had no idea that it was engineered by him on purpose. He thanked me, and then told me about the rest of his day.

So. Proud.