The Timetable of Growning Up
On Their Terms
I know this is a column about teenage boys, but indulge me a minute while I talk to you about my 11 month old girl. I promise it will be a nice segue into a “boy tale.” My daughter Ila has been slow to develop physically. She was a preemie and so we kind of expected that she’d be delayed somehow. Cognitively she has impressed us with her massive vocabulary cheered on by her ever adoring two brothers who think that she is the most brilliant baby alive. But, she was slow to gain weight in the first few months. She was extremely late to roll, and even when she finally did, it was only one way (a habit she continues to this day.) We never thought we’d see her sit steadily let alone push to a seated position…but those skills came eventually although not adeptly. This past couple of weeks however her physical ability’s flood gates opened. She reaches, she points, she bangs on her piano like Liberace, she crawls faster than our old dog can run from her and has now discovered the many virtues of pulling up to a standing position; all this done in a matter of three weeks. Unbelievable!
What does this have to do with teenage boys you ask? (Here is the promised segue!) Aidan, my 16 year old, is having a “flood gate” summer of his own. Not physically mind you, (although I am not sure when he got taller than me. It seemed to happen overnight.) But like my 11 month old, things I worried would never happen for him; goals I thought he might never reach seem to have come upon him all at once.
Aidan was bullied when he was in elementary school and the stigma and trauma of that took a great toll. For years now he has had ZERO self esteem. He was shy, withdrawn, a homebody. He rarely went anywhere with kids his age, and refused to call anyone in order to avoid anymore peer rejection. We repeatedly tried to get him to see all the potential and amazing qualities he possessed. Naturally smart, a talented bari saxophone player, computer savvy, a talented singer, a raucous sense of humor, Aidan has so much to be proud of. But no matter what we tried as parents, it seemed as if Aidan would forever be a loner locked in a battle within his own head and his lack of self esteem.
Lo and behold, halleluiah and the saints be praised, that battle seems to be coming to an end. How do I know? Well for one, I haven’t seen my 16 year old for more than five minutes per day for the last three weeks. He is NEVER home. He has his first job and when he isn’t working at that he is hanging out with other teens that participate in a summer theatre program that he joined. Last week he blew off his curfew. At first I was livid, blustering about following the rules and all the other things that “moms” say. But after, in the quiet of my bedroom, I secretly rejoiced. After all, normal teens push the limits. That night my son was a normal teen.
Each day on this motherhood journey is a chance for me to become smarter. I try not to miss the opportunities that will help me to find the necessary wisdom to parent effectively. Ila and Aidan’s growth has been a learning experience that I think every parent can benefit from. Our children will develop on their terms and in their time. That isn’t to say that we don’t help them along, but worrying about what they are NOT doing or what they are unable to do is a fruitless waste of time. Whether toddler or teen, they will grow when they are good and ready and not any second before.
Yesterday, I sat in the passenger seat while Aidan drove. His cell phone sitting in the console vibrated. I asked if he wanted me to see who was texting him. To my surprise he sheepishly smiled at me and said that he knew who it was. Without divulging too much, let’s just say that the name he said WASN’T male. I asked if this was a girlfriend, and with an air of confidence that I have never seen, he answered, “Not yet. But she might be.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed.