Friday, March 25, 2011

Big Kids, Big Problems

"What's wrong?"


"What are you doing today?"


"Who do you want to invite over?"

"No one."

"Is anything wrong?"


"Are you upset? Is there something you'd like to talk about?"

"I'm fine."

"Are you sure? Because you can tell me, you know. You can tell me anything."

Dull, bored stare.

"I'm. Fine. Nothing's wrong."

Concerned, I nibble my lip and shuffle my feet. This pre-teen stuff? It's serious. This is not for the weak-hearted. It is fraught with silence and sighs, groans and indignant stares. Bursts of happiness are interspersed with the angst we assume is reserved for 15 year olds who slather on black eyeliner and call their parents by their first names.

I cannot resist and continue to pester him. Picking away like a nervous chicken, I stare at my eldest child as he lies motionless on the couch, staring at the floor.

"Well, what are you thinking about?"

Huffy sigh.

"I am just... here. I'm not thinking. I don't know what to do or have anything to say."

I stroke his cheek and kiss his crazy curls.

"I love you!!"

"I know."

"Just please... tell me if you need to talk, ok?"


"I will."


It really takes all my effort to just leave him be. To allow him to consider and mull within his mind. As mothers, we want to help. We held their hands for their first steps and caught them when they fell off of their bikes. We remember how difficult the teen years are and we want to shower our wisdom and experiences upon them, easing the transition from child to teenager to adult.

And even though I know, I KNOW, that this is a natural and necessary stage in each person's development, I continue to wring my hands and bite my lip and worry, worry, worry that I might not be cut out to forge these waters. That I will royally screw him up by not being accessible enough; by being TOO accessible; by not asking enough questions; by asking TOO many questions; by not being able to BE what he requires to safely navigate through these next few years.Being 12 sucked pretty bad the first time.

Raising a 12 year old is even harder.


Debbie said...

Amen! And they all go through this at different stages and for different lengths of time. My 17 year old still wants me to stay away from him. It is so hard!

LisaAquinoVlog said...

I'm just starting to raise my child. Sooner or later she will be 12 or 17 and I wanted to be with her when that time comes :)
Your post inspires me. Thank you, Mom Blog

bohomamasoul said...

I'm in the baby/toddler/preschool ages with my kids, and I can only imagine how difficult it must be when they don't want to sit on your lap anymore! So pre-teen angst, complete with heavy sighs and rolled eyes, makes me faint! But your post just reveals what an awesome mama you are, and that pre-teen angst will give way to a young man that is confident, kind, and loving, all because of you.

anymommy said...

Lalalalalalalala. I can't hear you. No, I'm kidding, you are absolutely right and you write about it with grace.

Edie Mindell said...

I totally agree. When my kids went into pre-teen stage, I don't know how to handle them. They have their own worlds and when you ask them what's wrong, they say nothing. I think that's the hardest part of parenting; having the patience to understand them when in reality, you don't know and understand what's going on in their mind.sigh.

tz said...

we're so close to 12 ourselves...I'm not looking forward to it. I think you may be right about raising kids being harder then being the feel so much for them, more then they can be where they are in all those feelings and you feel helpless because there is nothing you can do to bring that sparkle of you to their eyes....

Lisa Noel said...

12 did suck!! I feel like my 8 year old is already there some days though. With being consumed with worry over image etc.

for a different kind of girl said...

I have a very young 13 year old son, and oh, how very often I seem to be the one saying these very words to him! So many nights I go up to wish him a goodnight, and I ask, in practically the same order, many of these same questions. I can see he's happy, well adjusted, and all the things we want for our children, but I also remember what it's like to be a teen, a new teen, and learning to find our own place in the world, which often means quieting ourselves to those around us.

At the end of my litany of questions, I move on to the list that includes "Are you sure?" "Would you tell if there was something wrong or on your mind that you wanted to talk about?" "Do you know you can always talk to me or dad?" He sighs and assures me he knows and he would if he needed it. I simply end then, wish him a good night, and hope that he means it when he says it, because I do.

mep said...

I'm still at the age where I get detailed reports of what happened in school, shared with exuberance and with a slight lisp. However, I know things change and am bracing myself.

Pestering and asking questions and reminding him that you're there and you love him . . . Pestering is an act of love.

Shari said...

Even now I'm wishing that the girls were smaller. Someone once told me -- smaller kids, smaller problems. I believe it, expecially when I read a post like yours.

Stacia said...

Man, I am so not ready for this.

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