The Growing Silence -- Parenting a Tween In All His Glory

The Lujan Loveless Family Circa 2002

God help me, I'm parenting a tween.  

A real-life, walking around biological lab of hormones and feelings and new thoughts and experiences. 

Gavin at his 1st Birthday Luau
Gavin, my 11 year old sixth grader is at the threshold of one of the wildest rides of his life: adolescence. He's taking a "health" class at school where they talk about deodorant and body hair and fallopian tubes.  God help them, as they squirm around in their seats secretly enjoying the feeling of being mature enough to be in a room talking about these bizarrely exciting topics.  

I mean, really?
Gavin is my first born.  He came into this world looking like a tiny Baby Ernie from Sesame Street [Auntie Jessa called him that from the day he was born]. He was a content baby, always going with the flow.  His early years were filled with middle schoolers and high schoolers, summer camps and global experience trips.  He was everyone's favorite toddler.  

Chef Gav

When he became a big brother it was obvious that he is one of the most selfless people I have ever known.  He has made the Littles breakfast most mornings since he was 6 years old.  Pouring cereal into bowls and saying things like, "India, you need to eat all of it!" or "No, Kingston, don't dump it on the floor!", always reminding them to say "please" and "thank you". 

What a guy.  What a gift.  

Some people describe this time as "the middle".  Caught between being a kid and something else that is the teenage years.  And that is very much how it seems, out here on the exterior of his life as I observe this transition into becoming a man. 

A man.

My boy will be a man.  

You know that stinging feeling when tears come from the back of your eyeballs all of a sudden?  Yeah, I have that feeling right now but perhaps for some unexpected reasons.  

You see, my boy - who will always be my G Baby - is in a space that I feel is the equivalent to what some would call Holy Ground.  His hands and feet are growing at the rate of a time-lapse video and he goes trick-or-treating with out me and other grown up stuff like that.  But he is also still the kid that will put down his homework and look across the room and say, "Mom, you okay?  You seem upset." Still the little boy that doesn't mind holding my hand for a few seconds while driving in the car.  

And contrary to how it appears that I SHOULD feel about this transition, I am not sad.  Oh no, not sad at all.  And not in the I-can't-wait-to-get-you-all-grown-up-and-outa-my-hair kinda way, either.  No, I'm not sad because I am just so happy for how he is experiencing this time in his life.

At the Biebs Concert, 2013.
It is exhilarating to watch him gain freedom from me, leaving me in quiet, subtle ways, as each child needs to.  As a parent you might not notice it until one day you walk in on them french-kissing their girlfriend or they don't even tear up when you leave them in their dorm room on that afternoon before the first day of freshman year.  

But for me, I'm doing my best to notice it now.  

The letting go.  It happens everyday, in small ways. 

The baby who grew in my body, who lived because of my nourishment, is riding his bike



just to his friends' house down the street, but without parental supervision.  The little toothless boy who never liked to finger-paint because it was too messy is saying words and phrases I don't know because I'm not in his world each day where the vernacular is created. Things like, "Mom, you just got poned!"  Poned?  I can't even begin to know...

4th Grade Honor Student
And for me, yes it is nostalgic and always will be.  But for him it is...exhilarating, dangerous, breath-taking!  To be allowed to become something outside of his mother and father.  To be slowly, gradually unfettered from his mother's arms into a world that is his for the taking.  This is how he is experiencing it and this is how I want to frame it so that I can remember it is not about me.  

There is a growing silence between my first born child and I.  The silence is still small and hasn't taken shape yet.  But it is there, as it should be, taking root in his heart and mind as he shapes his own opinions, feelings and desires.  For the first time in his life, privately owning experiences that are not of my design. 

Taking steps away...2003
Kids might say that parents just don't understand and in some ways that is true. And also very much how it is meant to be. In the cosmic way of life, the child becomes the teacher.  The helpless becomes the helper.  Gavin is helping me let go by taking steps away from me.  But this is just the beginning and the steps are little and he comes back frequently.  Eventually the steps will be bigger until they turn into an all out sprint, away from me, to his life.  

And I couldn't be happier for him.

Halloween 2013

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