I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Tag: Adolescence

Too Old To Dress Up

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Being Someone Else

“Hey Mom, maybe I’ll just wear some vampire teeth. Mr. C said he would be disappointed if I didn’t dress up.”

My son lets this announcement drop so quietly I could have missed it.

At 16, he is self-conscious and wants to fit in and be cool. Even though, secretly, I know he loves Halloween and dressing up. Well, we can’t disappoint Mr. C! Off we go to find some vampire teeth. (And maybe a cape? And maybe some makeup?)

As a little boy, he would dash from house to house shrieking with delight and dressed up (memorably) as Thomas the Train, Indiana Jones, or Captain Jack Sparrow. I would put all kinds of glow-in-the-dark devices on him, terrified of cars, but there was no stopping him. And who could blame him? A child let loose at twilight, allowed to be someone else, with unlimited candy! What could be more thrilling?

But then the shift happens.

“I don’t think I’ll go trick-or-treating. Maybe I’ll just decorate the house this year.” This announcement dropped like a thud about 4 years ago. We got the sticky, stretchy cobweb stuff for your bushes, a giant mechanical spider that drops down in an alarming way, a very cool fog machine, and a few other tacky and extravagant knick knacks that spend 50 weeks a year in the attic.

The following year it was, “I think I’ll just pass out the candy this year.”

Slowly the willingness to put yourself out there with enthusiastic and ridiculous abandon diminishes. I am no help. I used to love dressing up but now am too busy busy busy to be bothered. Halloween becomes another chore. Decorate. Undecorate. Buy candy. Figure out costumes. There was the year I spent all weekend laboriously crafting a handmade costume for my 2 year old daughter, when all she really wanted was to hang out with me. Do we really need to carve a pumpkin? My husband used to create the most fabulous carved pumpkins, inspired by the kids’ drawings. What happened?

Oh and to state the obvious: A holiday devoted to excessive amounts of candy is a nightmare for someone with eating issues. I used to binge on Halloween candy. Enough to make anyone hate candy for the rest of their life. Here is a useful tip for those of you who haven’t mastered this trick. Convince yourself you hate a food item and then it will become easier to avoid eating it. I HATE HALLOWEEN CANDY! Um, that’s not entirely true. I actually like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and allow myself about 1 on Halloween. Maybe 2.

I digress.

So when that casual nonchalant comment about dressing up this year dropped in my ear so quietly I almost missed it, I jumped at the chance to reignite my son’s childhood love of Halloween as he transitions through murky adolescence. Maybe he will even go trick-or-treating! I can just see them. A few gangly 16-year-olds, towering over their childish counterparts. They probably won’t be wearing elaborate costumes. Their “trick-or-treat” will come from newly deep voices. They may have a bit of scrubble on their faces. No longer children. Not quite men.

Thank you Mr. C for giving my son permission to dress up for Halloween.

Scrubble

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Boys Soldier On

I’ve spent the last year focused on preparing my daughter (and myself) for her leaving the family nest and starting college. My son, on the other hand, spent the last year quietly growing up. I think he thinks no one noticed. Maybe he wishes no one noticed. But I did. We did.

Not that long ago, he was still sneaking in (occasionally) for a reassuring snuggle around 4 am one or two nights a week. We never chased him out because we knew the day would soon come when our boy-man would no longer galumph into bed with us. Sure enough, that day came.

Not that long ago, his little boy voice would crack as his young man voice began to assert itself. Now, the little boy voice is gone. Family and friends mistake him for my husband when he answers the phone.

Not that long ago, he would chatter away endlessly. Now, I get one-syllable answers mixed in with eye-rolls and grunts.

I recently read a post about creative ways to get your child to talk to you about their day. Instead of “How Was Your Day?” try “What’s the funniest thing that happened today?” Yeah right, I tried that years ago and just got “M-o-m!” accompanied by an eye roll. It didn’t help that as a working mom, his school day was over eons ago by the time I got home, hindering spontaneous sharing sessions.

Now, he is shaving the scrubble from his face, at least once a month. (“Scrubble” is a combination of scruffy stubble, appropriately descriptive.) And learning about styptic pencils, while I grimace as I imagine the razor slicing his still-quite-smooth face.

The signs appeared on his door over the summer, around his 15th birthday. We had gotten into a bad dynamic where I nagged him to clean his room and he passively-aggressively didn’t. Keep Out! No Coming In! Fair enough. I don’t really like nagging him anyway. Clearly, he was ready for some privacy and some ownership of his space, of his self.

My son is sweet, empathetic, and sensitive. When he was a little boy, I worried that he would get teased. I balanced my desire to keep him sweet and naïve forever with the knowledge that at some point protective layers would envelop him. And so they have. Part of growing up, especially for boys figuring out how to be a man in our culture today, is to adopt some outward characteristics of being cool, which usually means acting like you don’t care, even if you do care. Deeply. And I know he cares. Deeply.

As John Mayer sings in Daughters:

Boys, you can break

You’ll find out how much they can take

Boys will be strong

And boys soldier on

But boys would be gone without warmth from

A woman’s good, good heart

I listened to Emma Watson’s HeForShe speech at the UN. Intently and gratefully. The one where she mourns the fact that her male friends stopped expressing their feelings by the age of 18. The one where she invites men to support feminism and to recognize that men are damaged by gender inequality. The one where she hopes for a world where men can be sensitive and vulnerable and valued as fathers. Because when men don’t feel they have to be aggressive and controlling, then women won’t feel they have to be submissive and controlled. I encouraged my son (who has had a long-standing crush on Emma Watson, though I’m sure I’m supposed to not know that and I’m sure I’m not current on his current crushes) to listen to her speech. Just as I hope my attempt to expose him to lots of nutritious food will someday pay off with him opting for a broader range of food choices beyond macaroni and cheese, so I hope my offerings about life and love and the search for meaning will serve him well as he learns to be true to himself and not be overly bound by social conventions.

Right now, he is eager to fit in and to become a man. Right now, that means appearing to be too cool to care too much. Right now, that means spending more time with friends, identifying with Dad, and carving out some personal space where Mom is not welcome. At 15, that is as it should be.

Mothers (and Fathers), let’s be good to our sons. They will learn how to love from us. While he sorts out who he is and what kind of man he is becoming, I will follow his lead. I’ll listen when he’s ready to talk. I’ll help when asked. I’ll cherish our hugs and Mother-Son movie nights. I’ll imprint those last boyish expressions before they are gone forever, so proud of my young man, who feels so deeply.

Live With Passion

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Because You Can’t Take It With You

A revival of Moss Hart’s and George S. Kaufman’s You Can’t Take It With You opened last night on Broadway. Ben Brantley gave it an amazing review. I don’t always agree with him, so I am reserving judgment, but it brought up a wave of nostalgia. And a nagging feeling that I’m not remembering it exactly right, but this is what I remember.

At the beginning of 9th grade, of high school, a new school, I was determined to reinvent myself. I wanted to be bold, brave, and in the limelight – living life with passion! (I still want this. Well, I am a bit more muted about craving the limelight, but I still want to be bold and brave and to live with passion.) Somehow, I heard about or sought out the theater club. Somehow, I just had this gut intuition that I wanted to be part of this group. It was a loud and insistent and completely uncompromising inner voice that I could not deny. When I inquired about the theater group, the other kids would look at me slightly aghast and laugh. Oh no. You don’t want to be part of the theater group. They are weird. The DQ’s. Drama Queers.

Oh no. I DID want to be part of the theater group. They were creative and interesting, bold and brave, and maybe a little bit weird.  What these other kids did not know was that I was a little bit weird. I just kept it so hidden and suppressed, no one knew.

This is where my memory fails me. I don’t remember auditioning for the show, but I am quite sure I did and that the first show that school year was the comedy, You Can’t Take It With You. I do remember listening to my incredibly clear and demanding inner voice and showing up for rehearsals even though I didn’t have a part. I just showed up over and over again. I had to do it. The director, John Duncan, inspired love and devotion in me and all the club members like I’ve never seen before or since. He welcomed everyone into the club with joy and laughter. He put me on the team handling props. Have you seen You Can’t Take It With You? There are a lot of props. The Props Mistress and I would scavenge the town, and neighborly basements, for all the myriad items that would make up a depression-era apartment and convey each character’s narcissistic quirks properly, like the typewriter.

The show is hilarious. (I wonder if it holds up another 40 years later? Ben Brantley says it does. I’m scared to see it. I must see it.) Mr. Duncan would work the timing of the comic lines over and over until they were just right and then he would laugh. Laugh and laugh and laugh until he cried. It makes me cry to remember how much he loved us and believed in us. I am on an airplane with tears coming down my face. Sigh. Live life with passion!

The next show we did was a musical, The Fantasticks, a beautifully simple show about young love and life. I auditioned. I can’t sing, but I auditioned anyway.

I can’t sing because I am afraid to sing. In second grade my friend Lucia and I sang Leaving on a Jet Plane at the school talent show. Okay. Think about that. Two 7-year-old girls singing Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Leaving on a Jet Plane. We knew nothing of love. We knew nothing about singing. We knew nothing about microphones. The echo back from the microphone threw us off. We were out of tune. We lost our place. We were out of synchronicity. Everyone laughed. Of course they laughed! I was mortified. I never sang again. Except at home or in the car alone, screaming to Aerosmith’s Dream On or soulfully pretending to be Stevie Nicks singing Landslide.

Mr. Duncan, who had earned my trust by this time, asked what song I had prepared. Um, nothing. He didn’t laugh. He suggested I sing Happy Birthday. I did. He didn’t laugh. To this day, Happy Birthday is the one song I feel comfortable singing. I didn’t get a part – it’s a small cast. But I remained determined to be part of this club. I was the assistant stage manager. A good role for me – careful and organized and a bit bossy. I treated this assignment like my life depended on it. Maybe it did. For some reason, I earned the nickname “Silly Sally.” Now, if you know me, you know I am not very silly. Well, maybe I’m a little silly.  Sometimes.  They saw these glimmers of silliness. They saw the hidden part of me that I don’t show. (Shoot, I am crying on the airplane again. Good thing the man next to me is sleeping.) I was accepted for who I was and what I was able to contribute. Everyone was welcome. Everyone played a role, even if it wasn’t the starring role.

Oh how I wanted to be the star and envied those performing on the stage. The ingénue with the incredibly beautiful voice. The comic team that cracked us all up. The mime who was so petite and spontaneous, braver than me. I got my chance later on, thank you Mr. Duncan. Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest. Elvira in Blythe Spirit.  That is the extent of my acting resume, but those moments on stage were thrilling and I wonder why I didn’t let myself dive deeper. Afraid to live life with passion.

Those weird DQ’s. My tribe. Actors, Singers, Dancers, Musicians. Non-actors, non-singers, non-dancers, non-musicians. Scenery artists, makeup artists, costume designers, lighting technicians, sound technicians, careful and organized and bossy stage managers. Funny people, emotional people, gay people, straight people, kids from happy households, kids from not-so-happy households, impulsive people, responsible people, flamboyant, repressed. We were all there, like any other group. After all, everyone was welcome, even if we were weird. Maybe what made us weird was that we were all just a little bit willing to reveal our differences rather than conform to expectations of what is “normal.” After all, there is no normal. It’s a spectrum.  We are all a little bit weird. Thank you Mr. Duncan. Thank you to all my DQ friends. You changed my life. (I am crying again.)

Photo Credit:  Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

You Will Go To Summer Camp Dammit!

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Happy at Home 

I have decided my 14-year-old son should go to sleep-away summer camp.

It’s a little late for me to have decided this.

Especially since he is completely appalled at the prospect.

Which is why I’ve decided it would be “good” for him.

Forget that it’s the end of July. Forget that the kids who go to sleep-away camp have been going since they were 10 or younger.   I actually have found a camp for teens that has a one week option that sounds idyllic.  To me.  Hiking, Swimming, Yoga, Creative Writing.  I want to go.

How could he not want to go?  Why doesn’t he want to go?  How much should I worry that he doesn’t want to go?  Should I force him to go?  Would it be like the time I forced him to go to yoga?  Which turned out to have been not very yogic.  Recalcitrant-son-determined-to-be-miserable prodded by frustrated-type A-mother.  You Will Go To Yoga Dammit.

He seems to be happy.  He plays tennis three mornings a week.  I enrolled him in swimming lessons, much to his annoyance.  A crucial life-survival skill, I told him.  Non-negotiable.  When the teacher said he was doing so well he should join the swimming team, my son told me he was kind of enjoying it after all and might want to continue.  Aha!  See?  I should push him more!

The rest of the time, he pads around the house watching television, checking on his basil and tomato plants, playing with our beloved parakeets, lying on his bed daydreaming.  He’ll practice his guitar and do his summer reading with some nagging.  He’ll even do some chores around the house – though it takes some pleading followed by a stern threat that tv-watching privileges will be revoked.  Occasionally a neighborhood friend of his will stop by, grateful for the tranquility of our house compared to the rambunctiousness of his house filled with siblings.  But mostly my son is alone.  Or leading a parallel life with big sister in another room.  Seemingly happy.

For me, his quiet aloneness raises the specter of my lonely only child summers.  Where watching television meant watching whatever was on one of the main channels at the time:  All My Children, Let’s Make A Deal, or Star Trek.  I renounced television as a pitiful waste of time.  Why watch game shows when I could be Achieving Something Great?  I am still quite disdainful of tv-watching, which means I am regularly condescending to my family because they are quite content planted in front of the television.  While they are, god-forbid, relaxing, I busy myself with whatever it is I busy myself with.  Busy Busy Busy.  Achieving Something Great.  I think they are the wiser ones.  Besides, the offerings on television are now so incredibly varied and sophisticated that getting lost-in-tv is way more entertaining and culturally acceptable than 40 years ago.  Indeed, I am beginning to appreciate getting lost-in-tv and am convinced I am going to wish I had figured this out about 20 years ago instead of now.  I am not sure that my son’s multiple viewings of every episode of The Big Bang Theory count though.  Or my daughter’s obsession with The Royal Baby.  Or my husband’s inexplicable fascination with Pirates of the Carribbean, over and over again.

I am coming to the realization that I am quite possibly the most extroverted, sociable, and exploratory person in my family.  Well, perhaps it is more accurate to claim I am the most neurotically driven one.  To say I am an extrovert is saying a lot, because it is with intentional effort that I have overcome shyness to meet new people and try new things.  I have tested, firmly and on multiple occasions, as an INFP on the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory test.  The “I” stands for Introversion and means I am someone who is happy alone and prefers to think through things myself without a lot of input on others.  Check.  The “N” stands for Intuitive and means I am someone who is creative and can spend a great deal of time imagining and dreaming in my mind.  Check.  The F stands for Feeling and means that I am eager to please and very influenced by the desire to connect with others.  Check.  The J stands for Judging and means I am someone who is measured, planful, disciplined.  Oh yeah, that’s me.  Check.

In retrospect, however, I enjoy meeting people and trying new things and have regularly challenged myself to do so all of my life.  At least as soon as I could break free from my over-protective and risk-averse parents.   It was a badge of honor to push myself to do something new.  In ninth grade, I auditioned for the school musical, alone.  A non-singer, I croaked “Happy Birthday” to Mr. Duncan, the most open and supportive teacher EVER.  I never did get a singing role in high school, but I danced and acted and worked backstage.  Being involved with theater is one of the happiest and most fun things I’ve done in my life.  And all because I felt in my gut that I had to audition on that fateful September afternoon in 9th grade.

As my son pauses this summer before entering 9th grade, I panic.  Will he be okay?  Have I done enough for him?  Shouldn’t he have more friends?  Shouldn’t he be doing more?  Shouldn’t he be busy busy busy?  Do the kids who go to sleep-away have a leg up on him?  Should I force him to do more?  Should I let him be?  Where is the balance?  The balance between pushing him and letting him be.  What will be the feeling in his gut that compels him to take a risk?

When we had a family meeting to discuss how much structure to enforce on our kids’ summer schedule for the rest of the summer, my son reiterated that he did not want to go to sleep-away camp and was terrified I would come home one day and gleefully announce that I had enrolled him.  Yep, that is something I would do.  My husband asked him to articulate why he didn’t want to go.

“Why would I want to leave my comfort zone?” he replied, stating what was obvious to him.

Why indeed.  He has a beautiful life.  Loved and safe.  I spent my life fighting against getting too comfortable because I wanted to Achieve Something Great.  I spent my life avoiding my childhood home because it was an unhappy hide-out for me, not a happy cocoon.  We have created a happy life for our children.  A happy life they are not rebelling very hard against.  At least not yet.  Perhaps that is a Great Achievement I should be proud of.

The desire for him to go to camp is my need, not his, based on my fear that he needs to escape the confines of shyness that I struggled against.  I will honor who he is.  Nurture.  Push gently.  Balance opportunities for exploration with time in his comfort zone.  And I will be happy that he is happy at home in his comfort zone.

From Boy To Man

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A Talisman for My Son

We gave away the swing set today.

Ten years ago, at the peak of the building euphoria when we completed the renovation of and addition to our house, we bought this childhood accessory, fantasizing about the fun times our children would have flying through the air.  They were 3 and 7.  We had some metal monkey bars from a neighbor, but I wanted swings.  I had had a swing set as a child and was determined to provide this accoutrement for my children, hoping it would attract friends and laughter.  Happy solitude would be okay with me also.  The swing set got a lot of use that first summer.  Pretty quickly though, the slide didn’t seem very slippery or very steep.  The monkey bars were wood and gave my son splinters.  He preferred the ugly metal hand-me-down from before.  My daughter could no longer hang upside down without her head touching the ground.  The squirrels chewed up the canopy.  The next-door neighbors used it more than we did.  It has completely languished for the last few years.  Finally, it was time.  The decade of having young children has passed.  The neighbors up the street eagerly accepted the offer, carting it away and power-washing it with enthusiasm.  The swing set has new life.  They completely surprised me with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine to say thank-you.  Four and two, the young girl looked me in the eye and handed me the bouquet of flowers.  It was all I could do to not cry.  It is time.  I wish them friends and laughter; happy solitude; and the sensation of flying to the sky when they swing.

My son turns fourteen this week.  My sweet boy is turning into a young man.  He doesn’t ask for a lot, but when he does he is very determined to get it.  We usually come up with a way to give him what he wants if we see it is important to him.   When we asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he surprised us with a thought out answer. He wants a coin on a chain, like my husband.  Many of his peers wear a chain with a cross.  I suspect he may want a chain like theirs to fit in.   But we are not Christian, so he knows the symbolic cross does not belong around his neck.  No, better to aspire to the trappings of manhood that his father has adopted and make them his own.  My husband’s grandmother gave him an ancient Roman coin that he had mounted and wears on a chain.  He treasures this coin and never takes it off.  A talisman of extraordinary power and magic.  What son would not want the same?

My husband and I were both touched by his request and set about researching the options.  My husband found a coin with Neptune/Poseidon on one side (my son’s favorite god) and a boy on a dolphin on the obverse.  The boy on the dolphin is, Taras, Poseidon’s son who was rescued from a shipwreck by a dolphin.  It also could be the boy version of Genius – representing the notion that a divine inner spirit resides within us and guides us and determines our character.  I like that interpretation.  And don’t we all need a guardian angel?

As my son turns 14, we are saying good-bye to so many of his childhood ways.  His voice is changing.  I must get a video of him – IMMEDIATELY – before his young voice completely vanishes.  I feel quite urgent about this.  He no longer crawls into bed with us.  Really.  Finally.  It is over.  For 14 years, he has slipped into bed with us eager for a comforting snuggle, a soothing backrub.  When he was a little boy, this was a nightly occurrence.  Gradually, it became just weeknights in the early morning hours around 4 am.  On the weekends, non-school-nights, he was more relaxed and able to sleep deeply and securely.  In the last year or so, the early morning visits have become less frequent – though he remains an enthusiastic hugger and snuggler at other times of the day.  Now, I can’t quite remember the last time he came in.  Just as well, he is getting so big, he really doesn’t fit – galumphing in between us to find a spot.  We knew this day would come.  We were pretty sure he’d stop climbing into bed before he left for college.  And with high school right around the corner, he seems to be on schedule.  I miss my little boy.  I am holding my breath for the man he is going to become.

One of the many things I feel I have missed out on by not belonging to a religious community is the tradition of ritual.  As he transitions from boy to man, it is an occasion to celebrate with a rite of passage.  Without a Confirmation ceremony or Bar Mitzvah, I feel the need to mark his growing maturity and sense of responsibility in some meaningful way.  We will have a family party and make a favorite meal and gift him with his Roman coin.  We will dance to the Beatles’ Birthday song.  And perhaps we will share our thoughts on what makes a good man.

My dear son, as you make the transition from boy to man, know that I am so proud of you.  We tend to think of good men as handsome and strong protectors.  These physical characteristics don’t last.  It is the strength inside you that will make you a good and honorable man.  I wish for you to have the courage to speak what is true and important to you and to live according to what you value.  Accept responsibility.  Seek adventure.  Be generous, patient, and loving.  Fight for truth.  Fight for love.  Live with integrity.  Live like you have only one life.

“Who’s Your Favorite?”

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Love Is Not Finite

“You’re my favorite,” I winked conspiratorially at my son.

My 17-year-old daughter was packing for Spain and having a conniption about not being able to use her phone (the terribly backward iPhone 4).  We had arranged for a loaner Droid, but it was not up to her standards.  It was my fault.

My husband was scornfully not eating his delicious crabcakes for dinner, because I had forgotten to get tartar sauce to accompany them.  His dinner was ruined.  It was my fault.

My son had dutifully done his homework and uncomplainingly eaten his crabcake.  He pointed both out to me, leveraging the opportunity to come out on top of the family rating scale that evening.  And so, what else could I say but “You’re my favorite.”

“Ah!  Mom, do you know that that is the first time you’ve said that to me?” he replied with an earnest look into my eyes and a catch in his voice.

He is almost 14.  How could that be?

“Kiera, Daddy, even Cooper!  (our beloved parakeet) but never me,” he added, inserting knife and twisting.

Maternal guilt strikes.

“Who’s Your Favorite” had become a family joke.  All Aidan’s life, he has anxiously and eagerly demanded to know who was our favorite.  So sure it was his ambitious, obedient, over-achieving big sister.  So desperate for it to be him, we dealt with it by:

  1. Refusing to answer the question.
  2. Answering the question by naming anyone in our family community except for him – teasingly.
  3. Engaging in long, philosophical conversations about love.

How could he possibly be insecure about our love for him?!  We have enfolded him, literally and figuratively, into our arms, our lives, our hearts, profoundly.  I know no deeper love.  How does he not know this to the core of his soul?

When I was pregnant with him, I confided to my husband:  “I love Kiera so much.  I am afraid I won’t love another child as much.”  As an insecure only child, I had little-to-no experience with groupings of people, waxing and waning of friendships, sibling rivalry.  I did know what it was like to want to be the favorite of my parents in our dysfunctional triangle.   I, like Aidan, wanted people all to myself.  If there was fighting, it meant the love was gone.  I never experienced “normal” family fighting and making up and loving each other even when you disagreed or thought the other person was annoying.  My husband, one of three children, said gently to me: “Love is not finite.  You will make room in your heart for another child.”  How did he know?

Sure enough, when Aidan was born, my heart burst open more and there it was:  deep, profound, maternal love for this amazing creature.  So different from my first child.  He is sweet, sensitive, eager to please yet stubborn, charming, competitive, funny, empathetic, motivated by avoiding parental displeasure, disarmingly naïve, and deeply honest and transparent.  He pretty much would be happy staying home 24-7 and hanging out with us all day long.  He tolerates school, mainly because it is important to us.  His is a tough personality to have in a family where everyone else is busy being an over-achiever.

How can I help him feel secure that we love him and confident that his qualities are valuable?  It is challenging for me to not focus on academic and competitive achievements, because that is what I have spent my life valuing.  Aidan’s interests and talents lie elsewhere.

He is the best hugger I know and will happily spend unlimited amounts of time just being close.  Just being.  Not my comfort zone.  I want to encourage healthy, loving touch between mother and son.  Since I did not have that with my father, nor with my mother, it is difficult to know how best to be close.  Am I helping or hindering his appropriate development and eventual independence and separation?

He is not self-conscious.  He says what he thinks; he asks what he doesn’t know; and he is loyal to his family and his friends with intensity and without embarrassment.  There is no calculus of how is behavior or his words will impact his social standing or his cool factor.  He wears his heart on his sleeve.  As first grade teacher Mrs. Goldman whispered to me at our parent-teacher conference, “Aidan is a treasure.”  Yes, he is.

He plugs away at all that we ask of him, with mixed ability and mixed results.  He is diligent, resistant, a procrastinator, a day-dreamer, hard-working, lazy, thoughtful, creative.

He makes me laugh.

He remembers the words to all the tv commercial jingles.  (But not the words to all the math theorems.)

My interactions with him frequently take the form of nagging.  Did you do your homework?  When is your next math exam?  Did you read the chapter for ELA yet?  Pick up your clothes.  Make your bed.  Set the table.  Take a shower.  The time we spend together revolves around working on homework or driving to tennis clinic.  It is wearing us both out.  Surely there is more for us to talk about and do together?  I am at fault.  On the treadmill of life and achievement, I want to make sure he is keeping up.  Instead of quizzing him, perhaps I should listen to him, say yes more, and be open to what he has to teach me, to offer me.  Lessons on how to love, how to relax and have fun, how to be.

A few weeks ago, Aidan invited me to go to the movies with him.  I suppressed my impulse to say “No, I’m too tired on Fridays and just want to go home and relax.”  After all, how much longer will a 13-year-old boy want to go to the movies with his mom?  We went out to dinner afterwards and shared our thoughts about the movie.  And then we did it again the following week.  And again the following week.  Maybe this will be our thing.  It is for now.  When I get out of the house I’m not consumed with all the chores I should be doing and all the homework he should be doing.  When we get out of the house, we can just be ourselves, having fun together.

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