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 He was shy, withdrawn, a homebody.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.
Logan,wish I had this to read when I was raising my 5 children.looking forward to the next writing.Great job
I really love this. I think your message holds true at all periods of motherhood, whether a child is 3 months, 3, or 30. Your article reminds us that sometimes we need to chill out, accept and wait.
Despite the talents and skills my children have, I recognize how often I unfairly compare them to their peers. Take swimming, for example. Through June and July, I talked to everyone about how concerned I was that my six year old, Colin, was not swimming. We would have play dates with friends who were diving, flipping, racing, and while Colin was having a fantastic time just being the water, I was convinced that he was so behind and that I would surely have to pay for private lessons. Recently I acknowledged that Colin is the kind of kid who will do something… like you said… on his own terms and time, and that any worry from me was NOT going to help the situation, especially when he could have cared less. And what happened? He started swimming! He’s jumping off the side of the pool, going under the water, and doggy paddling his little heart out!
Logan, I think about your stories as I’m parenting, recognizing so much of what you talk about in my interactions with my family. Thank you for your honest writing talent. You have inspired me to take up writing again, a hobby I have missed for many years. Keep up the great work.
Just e-mailed Mary Beth this am and said I have missed your blog…she sent me the link to this article. Read it and loved it…
Great lesson! Wonderful article!
Isn’t it nice when you see your children becoming what you had always hoped for? I feel the same way with my students in class.
This article was a great reminder about why it is important to not compare children. I sometimes find myself worrying when my daughter does not do something as quickly as my son did at her age, or “Couldn’t I do that by then?” I know from reading this that things will happen when they happen and no amount of wishing or pushing can change that every time. It is nice to read how your son has blossomed and the pleasure that brings to you. Yeah for Ila, too!!
Another great article that hits really close to home for me. Thanks again for saying what is in the minds and hearts of so many moms.
I always think it is funny that we can’t wait for them to grow… and then become so sad that they have grown. I loved this article. We are all ok because of (or in spite of!!) our parents–your kids are just really lucky.
Thank you for another great article!! A nice reminder that we can’t always be in control. My son Andrew (2 yrs) has some sensory perception issues. That means PT, OT, and a special Ed teacher to coordinate with his daycare & my full time job. He has made HUGE gains in the past year. Finally up walking & trying to talk! I sometimes need to be reminded that he will grow and his skills will change if I worry myself
sick or not!
Another fantastic article!! My neice, Nicole, weighed all of 2lbs 11 ozs and look at her today! She teaches 3rd grade and all is well. As for Aiden he was a shining star in youth theater and who knew he had esteem issues! not me
continue your awesome and insightful writing!
thank you for the reminder that it’s all about ‘in due time’….
Great article Logan, it is very true we can’t rush them to do what they re not ready to… Looking forward to the next one…
Another wonderful article, Logan. Your posts always put my mind at ease about raising my own teenagers. You make me realize that we’re “all in the same boat”.
OMG, Logan! It gave me goosebumps!!!!! I absolutely LOVED it!!!! I wish I’d had a writing assignment to keep me positive when I was going through the thralls of things!!! I did have my job that forced me to be positive, but I wasn’t being positive toward my situation……….I was just forced to be pleasant to our patients & it kept my mind (temporarily) off my problems at home. You’re an awesome writer & truly have great talent. Keep up the wonderful work.
This really hits home with me : My daughter didn’t walk till she was 18months, My son 10months. They could not be more different, yet have always gotten along very well. They have done everything at there own pace’s. I love this article !! can’t wait for the next one!!
Great article Logan. I love reading your posts and I look forward to each and every one of them.
Love this! I too have a child who worries me in her social growth…but if I really sat and thought about it I would realize she is growing socially albeit at her own pace! We as parents have to remind ourselves they are like trees growing and branching out a little bit each year but in the end they will be beautiful trees doing good for themselves and the world around them! We can’t rush this growth, we just have to wait and watch…….