Apparently, Growing Up Is Normal

I wasn’t going to write another post like this because too many are like this. But some days I look at my kids and I’m overcome. They’re taller. At 10 my son no longer looks like a little boy. He’s something in between now, and every day he amazes me with this new maturity, this new level of knowledge that allows me for thirty seconds to feel as if I’ve done something right in parenting. Then just as quickly he switches back to barely being contained in his own skin. I swear he’d jump out of it if he could. He’s still the boy I remember who wants hugs and plays with action figures and jumps on his bed. He still needs to be reminded to change his underwear. He still doesn’t listen when I tell him not to hang on the banister. And he still looks at me when I’m using my serious voice and lets out the kind of burp only a gaggle of ten-year-old boys can appreciate, then fans it away.

Sometimes seeing him walk across the yard with a longer mop on his head and broader shoulders, seeing him laughing with his friends, seeing him take rare initiative, it makes me realize how far we’ve come. He picked up litter from the yard and threw it away, without prompting. When he gets mad, he cools off in his room for ten seconds, this child who used to sink his teeth into me and not let go. His sister is two and half years younger and in second grade. It’s been a tough year for her. Second grade was a tough year for him. I remind him of that, tell him to be considerate of her feelings. “Yeah, second grade sucked.”

“Watch your mouth,” I say.

“It did.” He may not be able to pinpoint exactly why, but he’s certainly been able to console a moody sister. I’ve caught him just being there for her, sitting quietly with her, hand on her back. He gets it.

For her the first half of the year was rocky, just as I remember his second grade year was. Afternoons of crying and yelling and more crying and not many reasons why. I worried about how much she sat doing nothing. Couldn’t she do something? I walked on eggshells not knowing what would set her off. I remember feeling the same way with my son two years ago. Somehow I still didn’t have enough patience for her. I offered games to play, stories to read, but she never liked my ideas. Homework was an eight-letter word.

It feels like our rocky days are smoothing over now. No emotional bombs wait to go off. Suddenly my little helper is back. She’s smiling again, playing school and assessing my reading. She skips everywhere. She stops to kiss me before she runs up the stairs. She took the reins on a school project and she had really good ideas. And I look at her and still see a bit of little girl in her face, but she’s growing too. How did she get to be so big?

While I was so busy being annoyed and exhausted, dumbstruck and distraught over what’s been going on the past few months, my kids knew what they were doing. It’s all been normal. They were growing, inside and out.



Filed under Parenting

34 responses to “Apparently, Growing Up Is Normal

  1. I’m right there with you. My oldest are now teens and the other day they inspired me to write a letter to them (on the blog of course), explaining that they are a-holes. I’m learning to tolerate them. However, the next two boys are 9 and like you said, are in that in between age of growing up but still little kids. And then there’s my 5yo Diva who really is in a class all her own. Why do they have to grow up?!?!

    • Yeah, that 9-10 age is an interesting one. I marvel at it and how suddenly things just seem to click. Seven sucked. (My son was right!) Not really looking forward to the teen years though. I remember them all too well. Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. I can already see P2 growing too quick. P1 comes out with new things every day. But they’ll both ALWAYS be my baby’s.

  3. Lisa

    I can say I’m happily not there yet. Still enjoying the younger years. Doesn’t sound like next year is going to be any fun though.

    • For your kids it may be OK. Usually, not always I guess, second or third grade is a tougher transition year. For both of mine it was second. But as with everything else, it’s just a phase! And honestly, I’m pretty sure I have yet to see girl drama. That ought to be fun.

  4. What a lovely post. I choked up when I read it! I see my own kids growing up everyday as well and it is such a bittersweet feeling.

    • Thank you! I really look forward to what lies ahead. Those younger years were rough, they were great, we survived. But I do look forward to seeing what my kids do with their lives and what they become, even though it takes them farther from me. It just doesn’t need to happen quite so quickly. 😉 This is a great time.

  5. Awe! Thanks for sharing. Second grade was a tough one for my now fourth grader too. While he will be turning 10 next month, I have been reflecting on a decade gone by. It is quite bittersweet!

  6. My kind of bittersweet and tender post. i’m right there with you. i can’t believe what’s happening right before my eyes. i love it. i hate it. i want to capture their magic like fireflies in a jar… but i don’t, i won’t, i can’t. I just watch them grow and try to do the same as well.

  7. And you have handled it all beautifully!

  8. Not sure why my browser is being annoying and not permitting me to like this post! How wonderful that your son is already looking out for his sister! Enjoy this period. I hear the teen yrs are the toughest, I don’t have kids yet,but I have nieces and nephews who are at the roll-your-eyes-at-everything phase. They won’t be caught dead being hugged publicly by their parents.:-) Their mum can’t help it though,she stills hugs while they try to duck 🙂

    • My son already doesn’t want me to help out at school anymore. I was told at the beginning of the year that I couldn’t chaperone any field trips. He gets mad when I show up to help in other ways. It’s rare but sometimes I still do. No one else’s mom does, you know. 😉 My daughter would have me there every day if she could. And so far, my kids supposedly still acknowledge each other when they see each other at school. Usually with a punch on the arm.

  9. All of this applies to 20 year olds, too except instead of getting taller, they grow facial hair (with the hopes of looking 21). The way you described second grade (loved “second grade sucked”), pretty much describes ages 13 – 17. Maybe, you got lucky and your kids are advanced and will skip all that stuff as teens. Hey, one can hope. I highly recommend you print this post out and put it some place where you see it every day. It might help (but it probably won’t) to remind you during 7th grade that everything that is making you crazy, is normal.

  10. It’s nice to hear these come from other people. This way, we know we aren’t crazy. I have three that are in betweenies. One of them is on her way into the teen stage (waaaay too fast) and one is starting to enter it. Those rare moments I am positively amazed are my favorite, reminds us moms that we haven’t screwed them up completely.

    • I’m with you. Hearing it makes me understand the scope of normal, which is huge. What gets me through all of this is knowing in my old age I’ll look back at all of this and laugh and laugh just like my grandparents did.

  11. With kids in hs and college, it remains like this with our kids growing up and testing the degree of independence they are allowed. they also have to push back as they get into the teen years. It’s difficult but everyone gets through it!

  12. It’s tough to describe the feeling parents get when seeing children become less an extension of their fathers and mothers and more an extension of their own personalities. It’s fun but also a little scary, as we understand this physical and emotional growth prepares kids to distance themselves from us until they are independently functioning adults. Knowing how much space to give them and how much to intervene can be a tricky balance.

    My sons are almost 13 and 16. Sometimes I just look at one of them and think, “Is this that little toddler who used to watch Blues Clues with me?”

    Great post.

  13. I read that first paragraph out loud to my husband. Soooo could’ve been written by me, except you find your words better. What a beautiful post, Karen. And there are not enough of them yet. Feel free to do another.

  14. Nooo…don’t make me cry. I wasn’t in the mood to cry. I’m crying. I’m also really nervous for second grade now.

    • It’s not all year. Things are actually looking quite good now. She’s rounded a corner. Now my son has hit some sort of bump or something. I am just along for the ride apparently!

  15. Very well written. You tell it like it should be..straight from the heart.

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