To refresh your memory...this is my first born, Mikey. He just turned 12 this past July. Twelve. For months now, this boy has been the root of heartache for his mom...that is me. He tried, on more than one occasion, to grow up this summer. And he didn't even ask me for permission first. From my view, there was no warning.
I first noticed subtle differences in Mikey. Little snippets of change, peeking from around the corner of an unsuspecting mom like me. First, it was getting angry with me when I, out of complete habit, would request 3 children's menus at a restaurant for my 3 children. Makes some sense, doesn't it? 'Mom, why did you have to ask for a kids menu for me?' Wow. Where did that come from? I thought you liked the kids menu at BJ's. They have those fun puzzles on the back and the maze in the middle. He refused to even open the kid's menu and tossed the crayons to his brother and sister to fight over. I was caught a little of guard the first time I heard this. And, because I am a devoted creature of habit, we would go on to have this conversation at least a dozen times over our summer break. I would quickly apologize for forgetting that a children's menu was an insult to my newly 12 year old and allow for Mikey to order from the adult menu. I guess at 12 years, there is big difference from children's pepperoni pizza to adults pepperoni pizza. Maybe the difference is in the sauce. Or, maybe it's just the price.
My first has also, on a daily basis, been asking to stay home alone while I run errands with his two younger counterparts. It took a whole lot of time to get used to this idea of leaving my child home without me around, but as I am speaking with other girlfriends and fellow mothers, I realize that I might be the only one who does not leave her preteen child home alone for errand running. So, we eased into 'home alone' time with short trips to the grocery store or sometimes Starbucks. I would concoct a short list of groceries that I needed for dinner and would load the younger two into the Denali and give Mikey the opportunity to stay home. Alone. After I locked the door behind me and backed the car out of the drive, I raced to Albertsons and threw down the fastest shopping trip this side of the Mississippi. I usually left half of my list for a second trip later that week and would stand in line and think of the worst possible things and ideas that could happen to a boy of 12 left home alone by his mother. I thought of strangers just released from prison coming to the door or wild house fires or even what happens if he is eating while I'm gone and starts choking? It is amazing the tricks your mind can play on you when functioning in fear and uncertainty and change. It took several short grocery store trips and Starbucks runs before I finally gave in and trusted this young boy of mine.
My birthday weekend (yes, i get a whole weekend...used to be a week but now just a weekend...long story)was when I finally realized that Mikey was ready to up the anty in the growing up game. Mr C and I took our children to stay at a local resort in Phoenix. My sister and her two children joined us in the festivities. The hotel has an amazing water park for families to enjoy and that is exactly where we planned on spending the entirety of our Saturday. Just good ole' fashioned family time around the pool and the lazy river. For additional fun, I invited my girlfriend, Suzan to come up with her boys. This is where the game changed. Suzan also has a boy of 12 and his name is Tanner. Tanner has apparently already been through the 'I'm not a kid anymore phase' and pretty much dropped his towel on the loungy chair and bolted for the pool. I don't even think he hung around to be properly sunblocked from the hot Arizona sun. No matter. Moving on. Let me also mention that up until this point...Mikey had been hanging out in the family pool area with his brother and sister and his mom (Mr C was already hard at work...paying for fab birthday weekend, i assume). Things were great until Mikey spied Tanner...hopped out of family pool....and went on their own. The entire day. I hardly saw Mikey, and when I did, I am pretty sure that he pretended not to see me. At first, I thought maybe he was embarrassed that mom was in stripy bikini and maybe should not have been. But then again...I was still sporting cute tank top over bikini top and board shorts over bikini bottoms so the issue of too much 'mom boob' was not apparent. He did manage to come over to me to ask for a couple of bucks for a soda and I did take advantage of that time to check in and reapply sunblock to which I am pretty sure he still holds a grudge for because we happen to be next to group of preteen girls waiting for bathroom availability while I sprayed him head to toe with Neutrogenia SPF 45. I missed hanging out with Mikey that day and after about 3 hours without him...I realized that he was okay...making good decisions on his own and of course...practicing pool safety without me.
So, now he's been in Jr High for a week. Doing fine. He is having troubles with his school issued locker and has refused my offerings of help about 10 times now. He reassures me that he will get it figured out and that 'it just sticks sometimes, mom.' He stays home alone at times, orders from adult menus, hangs out with friends instead of mom and can handle locker problems on his own. Letting him grow up to be Mike...not Mikey anymore is dang hard. Clearly, I was not ready for this change. But I can remember going through it myself around this age and I know I need to loosen up a little and let him start his own path. I'm never going to be far behind him...just in case he gets a little lost. I will learn to trust in his decision making and have faith in this boy of mine that is 12. Twelve.
But just so you know...this boy that is 12...came running into his mom's room last night panicked and bleeding because he cut his finger pretty badly on Grandpa Roger's old Indian arrow. He wanted me to take care of his wound and bandage it up...he needed his mom. That felt great. Great I tell you. I cleaned his cut finger and wrapped 3 bandages around it and sent him off to bed. He still needs me like I need him.
I love you Mikey.