Learning to Let Your Children Grow Up - Eye Rolls and All

Filed under: Opinions

I was just getting the hang of this how to parent young children thing, and now my son has decided to grow up. I think it's a plot to take me off my game.

Until now, things have been easy. He's a sweet kid. Funny, smart, nice. Never gets into any trouble. Completely trustworthy. Last summer, when some bored friends decided they should go around and ding-dong-ditch the neighbors, he opted out, preferring to come home rather than disturb people by ringing their doorbells and running away. That's my boy!

Then, last September, he went and turned 9. He's still most of the things I just mentioned, but there's one new and unwelcome addition: He's surly.

I call his name, and he yells "WHAT?!?!?" as though I've just sworn obscenities at him or asked him to walk naked through the streets. I ask him to take his clothes upstairs and he looks at me as though I've grown a horn just off the tip of my nose. And then he does this thing where he takes his eyeballs and moves them up toward the ceiling and then all the way towards the back of his head. I think they call it eye-rolling. What is that?

"What happened to my sweet boy who always loves me and is happy to talk to me and do what I say?," I ask my mom.

"He's growing up. He's pulling away from you and asserting his independence," she responds, smirking a little because she knows what's ahead.

I know they're supposed to grow up. I know that thing -- where we joke and say when he's an adult he'll buy the house next door to this one -- is not real. It shouldn't be real. It is my chief job as a mom to prepare him for adulthood and make him ready to go off on his own and enjoy his own life, without me, except for phone calls and the odd holiday visit.

I will do all that. I swear. But I need to take a quick moment here to say, in all sincerity, WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH. (Yes, I'm whining and crying at the same time.)

I have loved being a mom to young children. I love laughing with him and my daughter, reading story books and going to G-rated movies that I dread but nearly always end up enjoying. I like tickle fights. I like how every single morning, whether it's a school day or the weekend, they pile in bed with me for a bit and we have cuddles and hang out before it's time to get going.

I'm having such a hard time envisioning the day when that will all be gone, and, yet, I know it will be here soon. It makes my heart hurt.

I realize this new-found surliness is all part of the grand plan to make it easier on me the day he leaves our house and goes off on his own adventure. By the time he's 17 or 18, I imagine he'll have perfected the eye roll, the door slam and the freeze out. I'll want him to know what it's like to make your own money and your own dinner and your own choices. I'll be tired of his smelly shoes, dirty room and bad attitude. That's what people tell me, anyway.

I'm just having a hard time believing it.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.