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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Butterflies in My Brain

My oldest son starts junior high next week.   While this isn't a huge milestone, it seems to be a new right of passage in our house.  Maybe it is because we have never crossed the junior high threshold yet.  We have indeed seen a glimpse of junior high tendencies, however.

Parker is a good kid. He loves dogs, pigs, football and his brothers. Probably in that order too.  He also likes sarcasm, sucker punches, and Youtube fail videos.

Its not like he is going to a new school. In fact, his junior high classroom is about 25 feet from his 6th-grade classroom.  But as his mom, I feel like he is crossing over to the bridge from boyhood to young manhood.  And I'm going to be honest, I'm nervous.

I have butterflies in my brain.   They haven't reached my stomach yet. That will be in a few years when he crosses the street to the high school.

I suppose my nerves come from the only place they can, my past experiences. Junior high was rough for me.  My body matured faster than my brain.  My feelings have never been more crushed than in those years.  I felt every emotion with a magnitude of 9.9 on the Richter scale.  Sometimes all at the same time.  I hated my parents; then turned right around and loved them. I liked, okay, (loved) boys. Obsessing about them more than I probably should have. I hated my body, my face, my life. I had more friend drama than a Shakespeare tragedy.  I hated my coaches, and teachers, yet cried at the end of the year when I left them.  I knew everything on the outside and nothing on the inside.  I thought that Madonna was the only one who understood me. And not the mother of Jesus Madonna, the other one.

Last night after Parker took a shower and did his hair for the 2nd time that day, he sat next to me on the couch and asked me if I had any advice for him in junior high.

I wanted to tell him all the stuff I wish I had known that took me 25 years to figure out. Like, the first time someone laughs at you or makes fun of you is going to feel like the apocalypse, but it's not. Your body is going to do some really weird things; it's normal.  Your teachers don't hate you.  I don't hate you; your dad doesn't hate you.  Your brothers might hate you, but that will pass when you are older.

But I didn't.  Mainly because his attention span isn't going to tolerate a long story about how his mother dropped a tissue while giving a speech in social studies class that sparked a 3-year rumor that she stuffed her bra.   Which wasn't true, but she obviously couldn't prove it.   Secondly, because talking to my twelve-year-old son about boobs is just going to make things even more awkward.

Instead, I just told him the first word that came to mind. I told him to have pride.   Something I think is lacking in a lot of people.  Take pride in his appearance, his name, his family. His word.   In the environment. Take pride in his reputation.  Take pride in taking the high road.  Take pride in knowing that he already possesses everything he needs to survive and then some.  Be proud enough to not take the easy way out, but humble enough to ask for help.   Be proud enough of his body, to not fill it with junk, the same goes for his brain too.  Be proud of who you are, because you were not an accident.  Take pride in real life achievements and not on the number of "likes" he has. You were deliberately put here for a reason.  Take pride in other's differences, don't shame someone because they are not the same as him.   Have enough pride to shut his mouth and open his ears.

As my critical five minutes of uninterrupted attention was running out I reminded him how proud I was of him, just for everything he has done right and even the things has done wrong.

I wish I could keep him in elementary just a little bit longer. I haven't felt this way since I dropped him off on his first day of daycare. But back then,  I relied on someone else to care for him, now I know he is capable of taking care of himself.

I realized that the same piece of advice I was offering him was just as applicable to my post junior high self.  Especially as I slowly approach the end of my 30's and drag my feet over the threshold known as 40.

We will cross our bridges together.

1 comment:

  1. What wonderful advice you gave your son. Beautiful and eloquently stated. If you don't mind I'd like to share some of it with my kids, who are both in high school. It definitely still applies, though I certainly do remember how nervous I felt when my older child started middle school and then high school. It gets a little easier on us as parents when the younger siblings leave that protective elementary school environment. Anyway, I especially liked the part about already having everything they need to survive, "and then some." That's really important for all of us to remember, but is especially easy to forget as young teens.