Growing Up   2 comments

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about growing up. Not me. I’ve done enough growing up over the past three years and could use a bit of a break, thank you. No, this time, it’s the aging process of my son.

The boy is growing up faster than I would have thought possible. That said, and given I didn’t even want children until I was in my late twenties, I suppose I never really thought about it all that much. Or much since then. I’ve just kind of been letting it happen.

When my son was little, I can’t tell even begin to count how many people would tell me they wished they could have found a way to keep their kids small and cute. This boggled my mind as I found the bigger my kid got, the more fun he got. When he started talking – talking came first; communication obviously being much more important than transport in his mind – I was enchanted. Admittedly as he continued talking and talking and talking and talking, I called my parents and apologized – a little wild-eyed – for my own chatterbox tendencies when I was little – not that I grew into the strong, silent type or anything, but at least I had a better understanding of what I put them through. (And, yes, I have told him this story. He laughed. Then started talking about something else.)

When he finally started walking – did I mention he talked first? He talked first. A lot. Still does. – I loved walking hand-in-hand with him. Everywhere. It was the absolute best feeling in the world. Luckily for me, he liked it, too. Except, for some reason, in parking lots. Go figure. Once the I-don’t-want-to-hold-your-hand-Mama parking lot tantrums started, I very quickly introduced him to the word ‘non-negotiable,’ an extremely useful six syllable word that all toddlers really need to know. Fortunately for both of us, he learned almost immediately a) what it meant, and b) I wasn’t kidding, and equilibrium was restored.

Since then, I’ve taught him many other useful things like cooking (always know how to feed yourself), doing laundry (I introduced him to the washing machine at age 10 so he didn’t end up like the girl in my dorm freshman year who didn’t know how to wash her clothes because the maid always did it), shaving (yes, I taught him that), and how to appreciate quirky British television and radio shows (a necessary skill in our house; Red Dwarf anyone?). Some things he figured out for himself – left-handed knitting, using a sewing machine, magic tricks (he’s actually quite good), and riding a bike. We’ve traveled together, done house projects together, ignored the lawn together, and this summer will be learning to drive. Not together, though. I already know how to drive and will be doing the teaching. And won’t that be fun? <shiver>

Some things we’re still working on.

Communication is one. Being a teenager, his epic, somewhat word-salad-like conversations now alternate with periodic bouts of inarticulate grunts. To the point where I have to ask for a translation as I neither speak inarticulate grunt nor do I have a handy TARDIS translation circuit or Babel fish to help out.

Housework is another. I’m still not sure how he manages not to see dirty dishes on the coffee table that he left there after eating breakfast. And lunch. And dessert. But, somehow, he does. It is truly a mystery. One that I’m sure would win me a Nobel Peace Prize if I could ever solve.

While the housework and communication lessons are ongoing, the thing I am currently trying to teach him is harder to define. I know as much as I love my boy, it’s my job to raise him to be an adult so he can find someone else to live with. Someone special. Someone he loves who loves him. To that end I am trying to teach my son how to be a good life partner.

It’s not easy.

Recently, though, I was able to work a lesson in.

Each day before I go to work, I leave the boy a list on the refrigerator of things I would like him to have done before I get home from work. When school is in session homework is generally high on the list. Other things also appear regularly – empty the dishwasher, do your laundry (also fold and put it away; I’ve learned specifics work best), feed the cats, put away the trash cans, and other chores along those lines.

I came home late one Tuesday night – a night he has dinner with his father – from an after-work meeting to a brightly lit house with no child in it and the back door unlocked. The trash cans were still on the driveway, the dishwasher hadn’t been emptied, and his lunch dishes were still on the coffee table in the living room. Needless to say, I was not happy.

It’s hard to explain to a teenager that there are times when you have to put someone else’s needs and wants ahead of your own. And that if you’re lucky the person you are doing it for will reciprocate. So, I figured this was an opportunity for a lesson.

When he got home, I lit into him about the unlocked door and all of the downstairs lights being left on (money and security being important), then stopped and took a breath. The first part of this was the response he expected; the second was not. He eyed me apprehensively. In a calmer voice I asked if he had seen the list; he answered in the affirmative. I then moved on to inquire why he hadn’t done any of the things on it, and got the typical teenage shoulder shrug, so I asked one more question. I asked if I mattered to him.

At his puzzled look – I’m pretty sure he was expecting more yelling – I explained that coming home to find none of the things on the list done, with no phone call or note explaining why, made me feel as if what I wanted didn’t matter and, by extension, I didn’t matter. His eyes grew wide, and I knew – for that moment, at least – he understood what I was saying.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think this will be the only time we have to work on this lesson. The number of conversations we have that include the phrase “Mama is not the household servant” makes this abundantly clear, but I have hope by the time he is ready to move in with someone else, some of it will have sunk in.

For the time being, though, I’m going to enjoy having him around. And hope his driving lessons go more smoothly than mine did. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Posted June 25, 2016 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

2 responses to “Growing Up

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  1. Great article. Didn’t know you were such a good writer. Are there other blogs/articles here I should read. xoxo,
    Aunt Sheila

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