Outside the kids tossed the basketball around. Between the bouncing and giggles, I kept hearing a man’s voice. I stopped my work, trying to figure out whether someone had dropped by. More giggles and squeals. There. That man’s voice again. And then it hit me. That voice, so odd and unfamiliar, was coming from my son.
We’re in transition. Play-doh has dried up in its rainbow bins. Crayons wait longingly to inspire their next rainbow or wicked creature. Pooh Bear is gone. He took the Playmobil and picture books with him. Bubble baths and bedtime snuggles have been replaced with showers and a kiss goodnight.
Doors are closed now. And locked. Mirrors get used, not to mention skin care products and brushes. My brush and hair and skin care products are community now. I could share shoes with my son if I wanted—I don’t.
We have serious conversations about the agony happening in the world and the safety of home. We—I—have suffered through sex talks. I hear the “But I thought…” and “This is what Suzy said…” comments and will myself not to convulse at the words and ideas being thrown my way.
Bathroom graffiti is pondered. “You’d think they could at least spell it right.” As an editor, I agree that the spelling situation in society has hit quite a low. But maybe slang words for female body parts below the belt aren’t words we should care so much about spelling properly?
I hear dirty jokes that make me want to gouge my eyes out, but under no circumstances will I flinch. I just get punched in the arm then anyway because of some stupid middle school game I don’t know the rules to.
Bob the Builder and Strawberry Shortcake character names escape us when we used to know them all by heart. Now I’m asked character names in the shows I watch, then wonder why my child is sitting next to me and when this happened.
My kids aren’t babies anymore. Despite the eye-opening time we’re having here, I’m OK with that. I like not having to cover my mouth if a bad word slips out. I know my kids won’t repeat it. I like the conversations we have about how unjust the world is. I like trying in the smallest ways to help shape their points of view. And most of all, I’m thrilled beyond belief that my kids come to me with the things they hear, horrifying as they sometimes seem to me, and don’t at all seem intimidated to talk to me about them.
I don’t look back at what we’ve been through and long for those days. Bottles and naps and tantrums seem so long ago. I think I like where we’re headed. Sure, I know we’re in for some rough times—my kids are preparing me for that. But I’m finding the rainbow in what we build each day.
It’s hard. Some days I think I may not survive big kid problems and this evolution. But every day, I love seeing the people my kids are becoming. Through the angst, they surprise me with their sarcasm and wit, their intelligence, their insight, and sometimes the fact that somewhere along the way, they actually listened to what I’ve been teaching them.