Once, frustrated after a long day of contradictions, obstinacy, and willfulness, I did this in my son’s hearing. Even after having resolved to be more sensitive and thoughtful about my son’s new stage in life. It was a Mistake.
He burst into tears, and asked me not to call him a pre-teen.
Blinking, I asked him why not. I mean, he is a pre-teen. True, it should not be said with a loaded tone, but as a fact. And yes, I apologized for being so insensitive and letting out my frustration on him.
His explanation was interesting. Teenagers, he claimed, were noisy, awful human beings. He didn’t care to be one. So we weren’t to call him a pre-teen.
So we had a stage of life talk. Thankfully, my nephew came into the world a year ago, so he’s now familiar with babies and their rapid growth from infancy to toddler-hood. So he has already seen a stage-of-life change, and didn’t have to just trust me or use his imagination. And then we extrapolated to discuss the years ahead of him.
After it was done, he asked if that was the “birds and the bees” talk everyone at school had been discussing.
Sometimes life really throws things at you, doesn’t it? Ever notice that?
Anyway, it was good for both of us to talk over the stages. It helped him to understand why he was becoming more rebellious and intent on pushing boundaries, and why teenagers aren’t really bad… they’re just preparing to go out in the world on their own. And yes, adults have already been there and find it tiresome to deal with.
It helped me calm down and re-assess. I want my son to become more independent. I want him to learn how to stand on his own and do things himself. I want him to feel confident, strong, and knowledgeable, and for others to recognize his strengths.
But surviving the process comes high on my list of priorities, too. Pretty much tops it, in fact. And so sometimes we don’t give him the opportunities he needs to stretch and grow.
It was a good talk. We hugged and both felt better about it all.
And I really am trying to be more sensitive. My husband has been great about giving our son more control and even occasionally letting him take the lead. We are working on supporting and helping him as he tackles this new stage of life.
And he really is trying – at times – to pay more attention and be aware of his surroundings. He’s taking on more responsibilities and setting more goals.
Basically, we’re all doing what we should be doing. So why does it never feel like it’s enough?
I guess it’s my turn to think about stages of life and parenthood… and realize that parents can’t win every time. We can’t always say the perfect thing, give the perfect gift, or be cool 100% of the time.
Well, at least we can still keep our sense of humor. And, around here, there’s still plenty to laugh about.