First: full disclosure. This post is going to be embarrassing For my eldest. I’m not going to use his name, not that I think it will make that much difference, when it’s all ready spread through this blog like salt on popcorn, but still. It provides a modicum of a shroud of decency. Right? If nothing else, it will make me feel less like a bad mom for sharing embarrassing things about my children.
(I think this is something that all of us parent bloggers deal with, isn’t it? Surely I’m not alone.)
#1 (what I will call my eldest throughout this post) will be 9 in 13 days. NINE. I have no idea how this is even possible. In so many ways it seems like just yesterday I was falling asleep at the table when MOMD&I were celebrating our 5-years-of-meeting-anniversary. It feels like moments ago when I was holding my belly, crying, and dancing with the baby within, that the doctors said I would never carry. It feels like a couple of days ago when MOMD started his parental leave and I went back to work… and yet.
He will be 9 in less than 2 weeks.
There are a lot of things that prove this, aside from the calendar. He’s taller, and he’s getting lanky. Just the other night he said to MOMD, “Dad, it’s ok. I think I’m too old now for bedtime stories.” And the adult’s hearts both broke a little.
The real sign of #1’s impending manhood though came the other night. Well, morning really.
The routine in our house for some time has been that I get up to pee around 5:30, and usually his lights are on (yes, that’s 5:30AM). MOMD gets up for the day at 6, and the boys usually arise with him. They breakfast, then he comes to get dressed for the day and wakes me up. About 2 weeks ago now I got up to pee around 5. It was earlier than usual, and I noticed that #1’s lights were on.
“Hmpf,” I thought. “Another day where he will be tired. I hope his teacher isn’t left wondering why he’s crying again…” and I stumbled back into bed.
Next thing I know, MOMD is in our room saying, “So, for a switch, #1 wet the bed last night.” I sat up right away. “Did you check? Because I bet it wasn’t pee.”
“Wha?!” says MOMD. “No way. If you are suggesting it’s a wet dream, you’re crazy.” Or something like that.
I was adamant though. I mean: this is the kid who yes, took a long time to toilet train. Once we tried at the right time though, he was trained in a day. And from then on, he has wet the bed possibly 2 times. That’s 2 times in 5.5 years. So you know, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t regressing to that point and wetting the bed.
And possibly I was prepared for this more than MOMD was. I have been watching and waiting for the signs of his budding puberty. In part because I was blooming by the time I was 11, so I expect him to be early too. And perhaps I’m just attuned to his physical attributes. You know, Mother’s Intuition sorta thing.
Anyway – MOMD did check, and he was surprised to find evidence that I was correct. He said to me, “So I checked and it looks like it was option B after all…”
“Whadda ya mean? What are you talking about? Oh! #1! Wet dream?”
“Looks like…” MOMD – bless him – was incredulous. And I get it, I think. He has a really special, close relationship with #1. They are two peas in a pod, watching comic-based cartoons, loving cinnamon buns, early risers and all that. What will this change mean? What will this step towards adulthood bring to their relationship? Only time will answer these questions for certain, but I suspect they will remain just as close because they are friends. This is what I was like with my Mom, and we always stayed close even when discovering my independence.
But: to the title of the post.
Did you catch that part in the story where I mentioned his teacher contacting me because he was crying in class? It’s true: she did. She was concerned because it’s not like him to be emotional like that. She said that he’s always very even-keeled, and happy to continue to find the right answers when he’s wrong. He gets frustrated, but he has a strong sense of resiliency that she really admires in him. Which is why she was so shocked when he was crying in class.
That incident was about a month ago now, I guess. At that time I had notice too that he was more emotional around the house, not dealing well with his siblings, and generally flying off the handle. I had no idea why because, like his teacher noted, he’s always been an even-keeled kid. I asked him what was going on, was there something happening at school, did he want to talk and he did share with me. There was a story about Red Rover at recess and how he wasn’t called to come over and it left him feeling left out. There were more elements to the story, and somehow I got it in my head that perhaps he was being bullied, maybe this was the start, and then the note from the teacher.
I shared my concern with her, and she promised to check it out. She let me know that she finds generally he makes good choices in friends, and that she would be surprised if bullying was the issue. Later in the week she got back to me that it was not looking likely.
Now I get it. Now I know why. He is being emotional because his hormones are surging, and his body is changing and he doesn’t know how to deal with all of it.
How come no one ever talks about this? So many of the media and parent resources take great pains to present balanced approaches (boys and girls) to the changes our children go through equally and fairly. In fact, in my quick google search, I found a lot of resources geared to kids, to boys and to girls. Thing is, most of what I saw for boys talks about physical changes. Very little is mentioned about emotions. I mean, sure: they talk about boys and them being embarrassed about their voices changing or their acne or waking up in a wet bed. What they don’t address is the emotional instability. The rampant mood swings. Those are solely the domain of girls, it seems.
This post has gone on for so long, that I hesitate to open this can of worms. But I will, because I want to put a bookmark here, to address the inherent bias shown here for another post. Even when they’re little guys, they still aren’t allowed to be emotional. I find that so sad. How are we going to raise fully developed, emotionally present and available people when we can’t even acknowledge that they have a full range of emotions?
I am here to tell you: My boy is in the throws of puberty and he is not at all embarrassed. He is emotional, he is weepy, he is sporadic. If you have a son, expect that what the experts say about girls will happen to the boys too.