Thursday April 28 2011 933 am
Recently, there have been some weird occurrences around the Uncharted Parent household. Most of these concern the tween boy who lives here. (I still can’t believe I actually have a child who qualifies as a “tween.” Nor can I believe that “tween” is a real word.)
It’s school-vacation week, which, because we’re not traveling anywhere, means that I get to sleep late, not write and referee dozens of sibling arguments each day. Quality family time.
The slowdown in the family schedule, however, has given me the opportunity to watch nine-year-old “Jack” in his natural, uninhibited state. And I’ve been a bit stunned at what I’ve seen.
Jack has stayed in bed late each morning this week, reading. (Yay!) This isn’t unusual. After 9:00 or so, however, he’s gotten out of bed, and, unbidden, picked out his own clothes, dressed, and brushed his teeth.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but trust me, it’s on a par with Donald Trump admitting he was wrong.
Then… fully dressed, Jack has gone downstairs each morning, prepared his daily breakfast of toast with cream cheese, a banana and milk, taken his vitamin and cleared the dishes after he was finished.
I love it, but it’s freaking me out a little.
Could it be that my tween son is becoming–gasp–responsible?
Of course, not all of my early glimpses into tweendom appear so rosy. (Also, I’m terrified of jinxing myself with what I’ve just written.) Jack, my son who doesn’t like to discuss anything, ever, has begun to talk on the phone–a phenomenon I’m sure will only last until we allow him to own a cellphone and begin texting, which will be a long, long time from now. (That last clause was addressed to Jack, in case he ever actually discovers and reads this blog. Got that, Jack?)
The whole family was present when Jack received his first call from a buddy just to chat. I’ll confess that my husband and I had to summon a lot of willpower in order to stifle our laughter over Jack’s side of the conversation. Here’s a sample:
“We just had dinner.”
“I’m inhaling the air. What are you doing?”
“No, you are.”
“No, you are.”
The conversation continued in this vein for approximately ten minutes. Jack then got off the phone and seemed quite pleased with himself.
And why shouldn’t he be? A first phone call with a friend is a rite of passage, whether Jack consciously recognizes it or not. What Jack and his buddies don’t realize is that they’re learning to take their relationships outside of the school building, away from the strict supervision of parents, teachers and other grownups and into a realm where they eventually will manage things themselves. That realm right now may be punctuated by belches and inane commentaries, but that’s okay. These kids will make their mistakes and travel through that realm as they mature, needing our parental guidance less and less as the years pass. Down the road, the belches may even disappear. (Right, gentlemen? Right? Sigh.)
Okay, so I’m doing the misty-eyed mom thing and getting ahead of myself. Jack makes himself breakfast and talks on the phone a bit and I’m already looking years into the future at a grown man who can take care of himself. We’re not there yet.
But we are in Tweendom. A place full of surprises for me. Like so much of parenting, uncharted territory. That’s what makes it so irresistible. Well, that and the cool people who live here with me.