I love Halloween. And I have loved watching my son dress up and go trick or treating with his friends. But this year he was a bit hesitant. No ideas what to be. Couldn’t find a costume. Had a hard time deciding to go to a friend’s or have a friend over. I was starting to get nervous that he would want to stay home.
Eventually, we had a plan in place, a last minute costume, and a request that Dad go with Munchkin and his friend around our neighborhood in the dark of night, and the drizzle of rain.
But I knew deep in my gut that this year might be the end.
The end of being a kid.
The beginning of being a tween.
And tonight that became even more clear as I listened to him talk with his friend. They were in the back seat of our car as we made our way to a school event. And as I drove, I noted the deepening of their voices, their casual bantering, and their friendly laughs.
And that is when it hit me. My son has passed the threshold from little kid to adolescence. The realization is jarring. What happened to the little boy I used to read bedtime stories to? Will we ever sit on the floor and play Legos again? He is too big now to sit and cuddle in my lap.
I’ll be honest. I have dreaded this stage. After teaching middle school for 17 years, I have become well aware of the various pitfalls. Tech addictions. Bullying. Anxiety over grades. Early sexual experiences. Peer pressure. Cybercrap, etc , etc, etc. He already has friends with “girl friends”. Most have cell phones. Some have already pushed the boundaries into trouble.
Munchkin’s world is very different from mine at his age. Maybe it is just an age thing, but the world seems suddenly chaotic and uncertain in 2019.
But the truth is that Munchkin needs to find his way in this world. I should not tighten the reins so to speak, but let them loosen. He will need to explore, and fall down. We will need to be there to help him back up. Munchkin is not Dad. Nor is he me. He is his own person.
And maybe it is time for me to be me, and not mommy. It is time for me to be Mom, a signal that Munchkin has crossed into tweenland and that it’s time for me to remember my identify before he arrived. I should relish the opportunity to delve into my hobbies and interests, and maybe even some self-care.
Don’t get me wrong. We will still have clear boundaries and expectations. We hope to wait until 8th for a cell phone. There will be limits on how much time he spends playing video games. Rated R movies are off limits. But we give him space and time with friends. I expect to drive him to games and gatherings. And we will try our best to act from love, and not fear.
But tonight as I sit here typing, I know I will remember November 1st as recognizing the change. And I will try not to mourn the past as I wish it hadn’t gone so fast.