Babies are born completely helpless. They need help for everything. EVERYTHING. Burping, bathing, eating, drinking, dressing – oh my!
Slowly, the baby grows and needs less and less assistance from the parent. So you, the parent, pull back and allow your child the space to do more and more on his/her own.
Then, they’re 11-years-old and in middle school, and they don’t want your help with anything. Hell, they’re offended if you even offer your assistance because it’s as if you don’t trust them or you don’t believe in them.
Sorry, a bit of a leap that last paragraph. Yet, that’s how it feels. Where did the time go?
Now, I’m not one of those parents who loved every second of their child’s early stages. I don’t miss wiping poop (Will I ever stop calling it poop?) off my children’s butts. I don’t think it was a bonding moment, and I don’t think if I loved the experience that the poop would have smelled like love.
But I do think it was all part of a process. Through that process, the connection between parent and child becomes stronger. And yes, that process is amazing and powerful.
Anyway, I’m enjoying my children at the stage they’re at now. I love the way we laugh, talk, and play together. I enjoy seeing how they interact with those around them. I love that they are at an age where they still like hanging out with me but are also able to be independent.
BR, though, is in a new phase. Getting him to hang out can be a challenge. He’s all about independence.
I saw the beginning of the transformation this summer. He insisted at camp drop off, “Just leave me off here.”
“It’s the first day. I want to know where you have to go and to let them know you’re here.”
“You know who runs the camp – Lisa. That’s who did it the last few years.”
“Yeah, but she’s the director, and don’t you only see her in the afternoon?” He sighs. “I’ll leave as soon as I talk to the people at the front desk. If you want, I won’t even talk to you.”
He didn’t laugh. He also didn’t want me to stay as he waited for this year’s counselor, despite me asking three times. Hey – I had to be sure.
There were similar experiences at the other camps this summer. I should have figured it out by then.
And a month later, middle school began. BR has had some challenges in school in the past. Because of those challenges, Mrs. MMK and I are used to being involved more so than the typical parent. How involved? Well, Ms. MMK knew the phone number of the guidance counselor by heart. This level of involvement was called for.
So, asking us to pull back – particularly Mrs. MMK – has been hard.
I’ve tried to tell Ms. MMK that we need to give BR more space. It seems to be the source of a number of our ‘discussions.’ Truth is, the adjustment is hard for both of us.
Memories of our boy needing us for the reasons that children need their parents and then some are hard to put aside. We were very much needed.
And now – not so much.
While BR has a lot of growing and maturing to do and responsibilities to grow into, he is in a different phase in his life. There’s a role for Mrs. MMK and I and it’s crucial but it’s also different. We are also entering a new phase.
I think we’ll have a harder time adjusting – but I still don’t miss changing poopy diapers.
By the way, BR brought home his first report card from middle school. And it was excellent.
This too shall pass. Middle school is the worst, and everyone parent who has been there, every teacher and administrator, will tell you, middle school is the worst. The kids are at such a pivotal moment in their lives and want the freedom that comes with being older but don’t have the developed brains to handle it. They have to deal with a new system of school, new kids, just a new environment and they will spend years trying to figure out where they fit in that space.
And don’t get me started on the hormones and attitudes! 🙂
Just know that you aren’t alone, there are plenty of parents who have struggled with the separation. The flip side is that you get to be part of the journey, they don’t need you to walk it for them and frequently they don’t even need to hold your hand, but you still get to experience the wonderful journey they are taking. And that is a marvelous thing.
I remember middle school was a crazy time.
Thanks for the explanation and encouragement.
I particularly appreciate what you say because of the relationship you seem to have with our kids.
We’re in the same place, and there’s a lot of fear built into it for us. We love, love, love the independence, but suddenly we can leave them home alone. Home alone with the hot ovens, the access to internet porn with just a few clicks, the ability to get into the beer in the fridge.
I guess we worry if we’ve taught them well enough up to this point. It’s terrifying! But so far no one’s burned the house down, gotten into the backwaters of the internet (that we can tell) or stolen Dad’s excellent beers. So far…
Whoa whoa whoa. Slow down there.
I’m not quite that worried at least not about those things.
Thanks for giving me something else to consider. Seriously, maybe I’m naive but I think my son isn’t there yet.
Ah, yes, they start to pull away from us. But I consider that a sign of us doing our jobs. If they clung to us during those years, we wouldn’t be preparing them for their independence. Luckily my teen sons will still go to movies with me, and occasionally even for a walk, so there always remains a few bones for us. 🙂
That makes sense, good point.
Finished middle school with my oldest but my youngest just started it so just when I thought I was out, I got sucked back in.
It sounds like BR is doing well, that is very cool. It is a bittersweet to see them pull away, but it is a good thing overall. Watching them begin to fly on their own is worth it.
In many ways, he is doing well. Some challenges. Nothing outrageous. It happens.
I agree with your assessment.