It’s official, he’s growing up.
I mean, of course this has been happening for a while, but we are officially in middle school and firmly entrenched in all things preteen.
He’s a different 6th grader than his brother or sister – a little less naïve, a bit more independent and confident. Isn’t that so often true with the youngest child? He’s “experienced” some things by proxy and, as a result, thinks he’s more (to coin his lexicon) legit than he really is.
Can you feel how hard my eyes rolled just now?
And it’s hard, because while I am a firm believer in meeting your kids, individually, where they are and parenting accordingly, sometimes you just can't. Often, it's because the rules are the rules and the expectations are the same for everybody. Sometimes, though, it's because you’re not ready.
T likes a girl. He would like to ask her to “go out” with him. I am rolling my eyes again. “Go out” in 6th grade means…I’m not sure what exactly. From what I can tell, you maybe sometimes talk to each other, text each other a little, and exchange heart eye emojis on Instagram.
He has no way to text just now and is not allowed to have Instagram so I’m not sure where this is headed or how it will endure. But, he asked and in a conversation imbued with frustration (from both of us) a few weeks ago, he explained that I was very strict and he felt like my answer was always no. And he reminded me that he's not Meems or Will and he needs to pave his own way . And he's right. I don't always say "no" of course, but often "yes" comes in a roundabout way. I promised I would be open to treating his middle school experiences with an open mind, noting that he is NOT his sister or brother, as long as he respected me enough to talk to me about them first, and so here we are with a potential “girlfriend.”
Crap, he honored my request. Now what?!?
True to my word, I heard him out. I met him where he is, but mandated certain things he was simply too young for: holding hands, or anything physical for that matter. He must treat her with respect and acknowledge that he likes her as a person, and not just in a “hey, gurl, you’re cute” kind of way. And if she doesn’t like him back, he is not to make it uncomfortable for her, but will still be a gentleman and a friend, as that’s what they are now.
We prepped for every scenario of her reaction, and what he should say. I’m praying for kindness and compassion from her, because even if she doesn’t like him, he deserves the same respect I made sure to stress to him. He says it won’t bother him if she says no. I’m not so sure. However, if she laughs in his face and reacts in an ugly way, he’s fully prepared to tell her it’s her loss.
And I’m ok with that.
And I’m ok with this. Not because I want to be, but because I need to be.
Because he needs me to be.