Tuesday, 09 September 2008
Recently my Middle Man turned 5. It was a joyous occasion, involving a small party (of which details and pictures will come later), and much enthusiasm pumping from us and bouncing off him. He is a stoic little fellow. When presented with his "big gift" of the year, which was a brand new bike from Grammy and Grandpa (he's been asking for one ever since he learned to ride his small bike), he cracked not even a hint of a grin. He stared at the Spiderman-decorated wonder, took it into his hands, mounted it, and rode away. As though we'd handed him a peanut butter sandwich to satisfy his hunger, he acted as though it was just the thing to satisfy a craving he'd been having.
This is in direct contrast to my oldest, who is so completely animated with his emotions that he presents us with the most brilliant and expressive photo opportunities any time we tell him any small exciting piece of news, much less when he is given a gift.
And this got me thinking, not only about the differences that each child carries, which makes them unique, but about how they express themselves and how this will translate into adolescence and teenage-hood.
Recently I have been An-Ear-To-Hear as a friend of mine downloads detailed accounts of her newfound trials and tribulations with her 12 year old son, who has not only discovered an interest in females, but has also discovered the fact that they are VERY interested in him. As the drama unfolds, I hear about "young" girls who claim to be a certain age, yet their bodies suggest a few years beyond their claim. I hear about cell phone bills that near 4 digits in dollar amounts, and grounding as a result. I hear about attitudes that she never imagined would emerge from that once sweet-smelling tiny baby that she held in her arms.
Then comes the fear. Somehow with my oldest, I expect to receive some of that infamous "attitude" when he enters these tumultuous years as he has always been the one to let it all hang out, so to speak. But the filpside of this is that I don't worry much that I will be sitting and wondering what is going on with him. Everyone in the world knows what is going on with him. That's the kind of person he is.
The fear comes in when I watch Middle Man with his stiff upper lip kind of approach. I fear that I will spend those all-important years wondering what he's thinking, what he's doing, what he's feeling. I try not to allow the fears of these upcoming ages affect me...
And then I realize, wait... fear is part of parenting from the beginning. When you see the pink line on that white stick you've just peed on, there is fear. Even if you've been wanting this all your life, there is fear. Oh. My. God. How am I going to raise a whole person? I have NO idea what the hell I am doing! And if you are like me, then your mind races, immediately, to when they are teenagers and asking for the car and you picture yourself with grey hairs, old and weary, slumped on a couch, resigning yourself to the fact that they will do anything they want to whether you say so or not, and you hand them the keys - then they slam the door before you finish your sentence about being safe and curfew times. (these are the images we are fed by movies. I blame Hollywood.) All this and you are still holding that damn pee stick.
Then you have the baby (skipping over the fear about the actual having of the baby, because, lets face it, that is some superhero shit that's been happening to women for all of time!) and you hold this little helpless thing and ... you fear. What if I drop it? What if it cries too much? What if it doesn't cry enough? Is it gaining weight or losing weight? Is it hungry or wet or tired or cold? WHAT DOES IT NEED AND HOW WILL I KNOW? And you muddle through. Learning and growing, you both: you and baby, muddle through.
Each stage brings with it new fears - Are they sleeping through the night? Why not? Are they sitting up yet? Are they speaking yet? Are they walking, eating, pooping, sleeping, rolling, fussing, looking enough?
It's a fearful nightmare, to be honest. It's all too much. But somehow, here we are. 5 years into this thing, and he's happy, healthy, and... alive. I mean, that's a freakin miracle! Because it's not like they have some kind of course you take to give you all the answers for raising a human being. You just squeeze one out, and blam! Time to figure things out as you go!
But you do. I did. So far, so good. I think. So we'll keep up the muddling. And we'll cross the bridges to teenage-hood when we get to them. And we'll tackle whatever trolls that demand whatever tolls on those bridges. And hopefully, on the other side we'll find sunshine and rainbows...
(I mean, there's got to be some of that crap somewhere in all this...)
And I'm not being cynical... just having a moment where the fear is chewing on me a little... it's called Parenting. These are the times nobody tells you about beforehand. Sooo, you're welcome.
What kinds of fears or concerns do you have when it comes to your children?