Dear mum’s of growing boys.
My son is six. He is wading clumsily through days heavy with adventure. Sticky ice creams and skimming his knees climbing anything in sight. Yesterday, I had a forty five minute stand-off with him over the wrong application of butter on toast. I mean, what?!! My boy is three foot of stubbornness in a Pikachu t-shirt. This morning, lip wobbling, fists clenched, he demanded I put on his stripy socks. That he could remember how (said in that whingey, overtired tone. You know the one).
‘You can do this yourself honey.’
He can but sometimes he won’t. Doesn’t fancy it. A Western style standoff over his naked left foot ensues. Anyone else find themselves in this situation? Their kid face down on the floor in protest over something utterly ridiculous. Maybe a Cheerio was the wrong colour, or it rained. Perhaps I should give in and just dress him. What am I pushing for? Him to respect what I have asked, to achieve something on his own. Looking at his coltish long legs and crossed arms he wavers between his baby-self and becoming a mini man. He wants to be big enough to choose not to eat his carrots or watch ‘big boy’ programs on TV, but then some days tells me I should wipe his bottom as his arm is tired.
A six year old is of course still a child, I am not demanding he prematurely skip off to university and start growing a goatee. But all boys save one grow up, and mine is not Peter Pan. Right now both he and I are stuck in transitions. There are times when I get mad at him for not acting his age, and then start crying because my boy is ‘growing up too fast.’ Ooof. No wonder why he is confused.
We need to move forwards but there is part of me that can’t let him go. I need to sort out my s**t. It’s time to Google, or to purchase a parenting book. It is not just our kids but us as parents that need guidance. Reassurance. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?
So what do I do, encourage responsibility, but in a way he does not feel pressured? Offer independence but still warmth and compassion. Ask that he make his bed every day and watch him ride off without his stabilisers. Kids the same age play on the street unsupervised. The idea makes me sweaty, and I say he is too young. Am I being too restrictive? He helped me garden yesterday and I let him hack roses with the hedge shears. I don’t think I am too much of a bubble wrap mum.
Do I tell him to be careful too much? To get down, to stop fighting? Say no, no, no. My boy is a little muddy ball of adrenaline and energy. Perhaps I need to sign him up for more sports cubs. Team activities. Our house is a box so we only have the odd playdate. Is the boy isolated, socially restricted? Should I send him off to a pub quiz? Playdates tend to result in him asking what sex is and telling me to shut up. No more playdates Mr you are living in a cave FOREVER. It worked for Batman.
When he was a child everything was mummy, mummy, mummy, now he is influenced by so many other things. School, the kid next door, Power Rangers.
What am I secretly afraid of?
That today will be the last day he asks me to pick him up. To help him wash his face. To ask for a kiss goodnight. Distance has fallen between us. I think it is called growing up. Not that my son does not need me, of course he does. I, at thirty need my mother just as much, but just in a different way. For different things. It is a strange sort of bereft grief I feel. Mourning for that baby I held in my arms, 7 lb, 7oz. The days turn into months and the months turn into years. I keep the years in my heart. My boy needs to face challenges and I will fight my fears. Time cannot take away the fact that I will always be him mother.
I’m steering the ship, but have been demoted as captain. And am frightened and happy all at once. There is so much for him, for us to celebrate. All of these firsts also have lasts, years are a stepping stone to his life. And he will be magnificent. At least I can still watch him sleep and smooth down his hair as I can’t ‘embarrass him’ when he is comatose.
Dear mums of growing boys, help me find my way. Shine a torch.
Growing up is both wonderful and terribly sad.
How old are your children, teens, tweens, are you an empty nester. Has your baby just turned one and you are celebrating with a hint of sadness? How do you find a balance between encouraging your children to be independent and still give them everything they need? What on earth do they need?!