Baby Teenager

My baby boy turned 13 last week. He's a brand new teenager, and I'm trying to find the humor in it. I've had a lot of feelings but, so far, funny hasn't been one of them.

There have always been those days when I wish for an extra hour (or 10) alone, or dreamed of an easy date night without the favors and babysitters. I've rolled my eyes and groaned over shooting Nerf guns, playing video games or dressing up like Batman with him. We've yelled about going to sleep after a dozen "just one more..." requests at bedtime. We have played Minecraft, Clash of Clans and Fortnite with him. We have listened to verbatim reenactments of Stampy from YouTube. We have felt simultaneously tortured and thankful for over a decade, because even though we might not choose those experiences, he chose them and he chose to do them with us. This stage of parenthood is, for us, coming to a close as he leans toward autonomy and space.

The older he gets, the more I find myself drawing away from his adolescent persona, wishing we could turn back the clock and do the first few years over again. Or maybe he's drawing away and I'm caught between pulling him closer and letting him go.

It's an awkward stage for kids, being torn between worlds. Nearly an adult one minute, still a child the next; excitement at staying home alone, but lonely at the same time; keeping a cool amount of space between self and parents, but missing the warmth of mom's hugs or the ruffling of hair from dad. They're trying to figure out who they are without us, but growth is uncomfortable and they don't yet understand that it's okay to need us still.

It's a rough stage for parents, too. Wasn't it just last week they were toddling around the kitchen, unable to touch the counter top? Just a moment ago, when this child needed us - wanted us - for everything imaginable? Suddenly he wants to keep an assured distance of 3 car lengths when we're walking into the grocery store. He just decides one day that we are separate; that he is the boss of time and now we, the parents, are the ones who need just one more minute before bedtime; just one more kiss and hug; just one more walk around the block with a tiny hand grasping at ours with all the squeezy love his big little heart can muster. We want our children to become successful humans, but growth is uncomfortable and we don't yet understand how long or how much they will need us.


Popular Posts