Today I walked my 12 year old son, Shelby, to the gate for his first solo flight. He is off to Arlington, Texas to spend the week with my sister and brother-in-law (and my parents for part of the week). He is so excited about the time with them and about heading off on his own. I, on the other hand, am feeling a bit sad. Not sad because he is going off on an adventure and I will miss him. I am a little bit sad to see how grown up he is and how quickly he has become a young man. It seems like only yesterday that we were walking out of the orphanage in Yekaterinburg, Russia with a 9 month old adoptee. But today he is a creative, intelligent, funny, compassionate, and talented young man. I am so proud of him and of WHO he is becoming. It is not always easy. Sometimes being a pre-teen is rough – and so is being the parent of a pre-teen. He is going through changes all the time and I am just trying to keep up.
So being sad is just about me. I am much more encouraged by who he is. He is a justice fighter. He speaks up naturally when an injustice occurs. He protects the underdog and cheers for everyone equally. He is absolutely baffled that some people are homophobic or racist. He sees people as equals and cannot understand those who don’t as well. He wants to do a march on Washington, watches C-SPAN, and debates the debt ceiling with wisdom beyond his age. He also cracks jokes that only a mother would laugh at, can text faster than a human ought to be able to text, drives me crazy with his antics, blows things up to scare me to death, and has a mess of a room. Shelby is a typical 12 year old. One minute he is a young man – the next he is still a bit of a little boy. But more and more – he is a young man with opinions and interests all his own – apart from me.
I know when he becomes frustrating and emotional that it is his age and the changes he is going through. He is just like every other pre-teen. I know he loves me and would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. But sometimes being a pre-teen mom is tough. I have to remember that nothing he says or does is personal. And that’s hard.
So I promise to grow up with him. I promise to guide him. I promise to try not to take things personally. I promise to set limits and sometimes make him mad. I promise to try to overlook his messy room and not press my OCD on him too much. I promise to encourage him and laugh at his jokes. I promise to ground him if he comes in late. I promise not to pry into his personal life … and I promise I will pry if I have to. I promise to love him anyway. That’s what being a parent is all about.