Paradise and Parenting: Watching Him Grow

It’s a beautiful thing to watch a boy grow. I would know, as I have one growing uncontrollably in my house right now. On Sunday, he will be fourteen, which I feel will help me come to terms with the fact that I have to point my finger up to make an emphatic point about the state of his room.

He’s a teenager all right, in a state of perpetual hunger, tiredness, and pique. Sure, he goes through periods of energy and industry, where neither homework nor Fortnight foes stand a chance. He’s razor-focused during these moments, ready to take on the world or at least a nice steamy plate of pasta. He had a Geography project that he found interesting, so he did it twice. Two. Times.

He also tends to have more get-up-and-go when it involves something he dearly desires. This year his father and I decided he really could use a phone (so long as he promised to answer when I called him on it). The depths he went to investigate the Iphone he wanted involved a history on the multimillionaire and Apple visionary Steve Jobs. This somehow led him to the conclusion that an Iphone 8 would be the appropriate model for his birthday gift (although he was intelligent enough to accept the Iphone 6 that was purchased).

And then there are days where he’s that typical teen dealing with the circadian shift in his body clock. In other words, you would need at least a forklift to get him out of the house, because his bed would be attached. And then if he does come out with us, we then wish he would have stayed at home, because he only answers our forced cheer with a series of grunts and clicks.

Yet here I am telling you that it’s a beautiful thing to watch him grow. Incredibly, this statement is actually true. I’ve been in charge of guiding this life from the moment he came into existence, and yet he thrives. Miraculous! The Boy is so many things, not the least of which is hardy.

I tend to get nostalgic, which he claims to find irritating, but he always says it with an almost imperceptible grin. I look back and remember all the great stuff about him as a little boy (and there was a lot of great stuff). I remember the time he told his baby sister that it was time for them to get part-time jobs and help out the family (he was seven, she was five), or the time he told me he wanted us to live in a hotel so I could relax and not have to cook anymore (but I knew he just wanted to eat room service deep-fried cheese sticks forever). I mean, good, adorable stuff, right? Wouldn’t it be great if they were little forever?

But then I see him now and realize I’d never give up this part of his life, either. Because I love how we now share an appreciation for Stephen King’s collected work and his Twitter feed.

I love how he likes both nineties grunge rock and nineties rap music (Green Day AND Eminem?  I mean, c’mon).

I love how he (without mentioning it to me) went out and signed up to lead sustainability projects at our school, being one of the youngest youth leaders in the program.

I love how he dreams big and says he’ll write something/invent something/do something that is going to Change Things.

I love how he sometimes sneaks up and wraps an arm around me and says (not without a little irony, but he’s nearly fourteen so he gets to), “I love you mommy.”

And I love how he’s still young enough to feel like he wants his parents to live with him someday in his mansion (I hope he looks back in thirty years and feels the same way).

I may not have the perfect kid, just as he doesn’t have a perfect mom. But watching him grow has been an amazing ride, one that continues to be surprising, and stressful, and transformative. My front row seat is one of the greatest gifts in my life.

Happy Birthday, Bub.