Monday, September 26, 2011


Barbara Ward-Finneran
The world is different now.  It happened gradually and yet it happened all of a sudden.  It's something to celebrate and yet it can practically terrify me.  I'm uncertain which part is harder or worse.  My little boy is not so little anymore.  He's not little at all. Every milestone  through the years has meant the world to me - as this was the little boy "they" told me would never go to a "real school" because of his Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Now that seems like a lifetime ago.

He's closing in on twelve in the coming months and is actively spreading his wings in "Middle School".  For the most part all is good.  Very, very good.  He is happy and working very hard to have as much success as possible academically and socially. He's taken the school changes in stride and is maintaining his grades with extra effort and work.  I am so proud of my son and his accomplishments. 

He lives quite the "normal" life.  Perhaps right now it feels a little too normal as there is no shortage of pre-adolescent experiences.  He's rockin' them just like his peers.  Which I embrace as a blessing - yet it breaks my heart.  As parents, out hearts break a little when our kids hurt, and it matters not why... it just breaks.  Along with all the goodness of growing up, has arrived the catalysts of things that challenge and rattle self esteem and shake confidence.  Why is this a right of passage? Why has it not gone away in the decades since I lived through it? Why do I have to hear pain in my son's little boy's voice now sometimes "cracking" in it's desire to become deeper?

In recent weeks everything matters more.  It's as if his eye have become aware of every detail and nuance that used to matter not.  There was a blessing in that ignorance which has been lost to keen sight. He's noticed that what was once an all encompassing circle of friends is now taking the natural course of evolving into cliques and he's struggling with where he "fits".  An unspoken code of musical friends and endless competition has reared it's ugly head.  He's all too aware of girls and worries what they think and wonders why they sometimes laugh so much and squeal so loud.  He's learned that although there are things he still adores and loves to play - that it's just "not cool" to advertise these interests. He's questioning changes in his body and wondering why he's "feeling" more physically and emotionally.  All normal growing pains of tweens finding their way to teens. These seem easier and simpler to deal with, discuss and explain away.  What's cutting me to my core are the ones that haunt me from my own adolescence.

He's notice that his hair is different.  Curly.  Like my own and he wants it straight, "like everyone else". (Lord knows, I cried a bucket of tears over that one. Did have my revenge in the 80s when big hair came in - but that's another blog.)   He's beside himself at times fighting the tears welling in his beautiful blue eyes, that he wants his "flat tummy" back.  (Again, all too reminiscent of my own days as a tween who dealt with being "overweight" - combined with the already existing "Mommy Guilt" of having had my boys seemingly find some of the weight I have lost in the last two years!) It's hard enough to deal with finding the right words and way to guide your kids - without your own inner tween getting in the way.  Hard to comfort this frenzy of insecurity when hearing your child talk about it floods your memories to the surface.  Having that empathy of having "been there done that" --- makes hearing their hurt all the worse. Makes it harder to comfort and makes you want to comfort it even more. Good grief... adolescence was hard enough the first time around!  Would you have ever imagined that it could be worse the next time.  I expected the happening growing pains.  I was ready for them.  I was however, in denial of  "Adolescence Take  Two"- dishing growing pains to the parents with a whole new helping of hurt. In denial of the fact that I'd be feeling so much of them. That I'm not done with my own - for parenthood seem to now have it's own share of growing pains... and frankly, at the risk of sounding like a tween - THAT'S JUST NOT FAIR!!!

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