There isn’t enough weekend for me. I want to be able to really connect with Craig and each of the boys, but it feels like bobbing for apples. With a finger snap everyone disperses into various activities, and catching one on one time is a challenge. And with boys it’s just not that easy anyway because getting them to open up and talk requires seven layers of tricks. One of the best ways to get a boy to share what’s on his mind or even go deeper into what’s in his heart, is to get him alone in the car. I’ve been known to “get lost” while they are in the midst of opening up, just so I can hear all of the story.
I get nothing out of them in the kitchen. And if I go into their bedrooms, I’m so disgusted by the debris and they are so defensive, discovery is impossible. And forget it if the tv is switched on. I have to make them mad first by shutting it down, and it’s a while before they forgive me for that invasion into their escape. If they are doing something they really don’t want to do, there’s a three inch layer of attitude, no opening for heart talk. And if they come seek me in the house, they want something. And I can’t trust their confessions when they want something, because they’ll tell me anything to get the credit card to pay for a tank of gas, to get their paper signed, to approve an activity request , or to negotiate a problem with another brother. So what’s a mom to do?
I can’t get them to come with me anymore when I’m doing “mom” errands, unless I trap them, like I did to Jack yesterday. On Sunday afternoons he has a riding lesson, so we left early, against his will. I took him to home depot to pick up some shade plants for my back porch pots. He was so involved in helping me find the shade plants among all the sun lovers, it was fun. He gave me advice on colors too. He navigated the cart and held my spot in line. He even wanted to help me plant them later that day, but I shooed him away at that point because that was delicate business and he’s messy.
Since he was captive, after his riding lesson, we whizzed through costco for the week’s food. He’s a sugar addict, and I had to say no more times than I like, that kid is relentless. But he is also helpful, and usually he’s happy, and funny. It’s entertaining for me to watch him during his riding lesson. He whines a little about how hard it is for his legs. He has a cheerful conversation with his instructor the whole time. He likes riding, and he wants to become good at it. He’s not afraid of falling, but I predict he’ll have a few falls, and I’m not sure how well he’ll react. There’s a stable rule, if you fall, you get back on immediately. Not much different from being a mother or wife, it’s a good life lesson.
After spending several hours alone with Jack yesterday I am fully realizing how much he is changing. He’s always been my little boy, my sweetie, my cuddle bug. But now he is moving away from being a mama’s boy and fully entering the awkward tweenie stage of being self-conscious, girl conscious, and asserting his ideas and will against mine. He’s so obvious about using his sister in public to draw attention to himself! He insists on carrying her through parking lots, or being the one to hold her hand. I’ve heard him declare, “she’s a chick magnet”. I think he heard his brother’s say it, but it never occurred to him not to follow their example.
The boys are growing up so fast and we are powerless to slow it down. And little miss caboose, the baby, she’s growing too, but thankfully not too fast. I won’t mind so much when she grows out of her tantrums, but oh do we ever need her snuggles and cheerful greetings. I sometimes wish for a pause button in my life. Maybe that’s why I take so many photos. It makes me so sad to see them ready to leave the nest before I am ready to see them go. Donny is in his second year of college, and we are finally getting used to the idea that he’s not always able to participate in everything we do as a family. I rode the brakes on that idea for a long time, maybe until they just gave out. I better have a long clear look at the fact that Jordan will be a senior this next year, and Kevin starts high school, while Jack enjoys his final year in elementary school. The thought makes me want to tie them all to my apron strings, but I know better. Letting them go isn’t a choice I get to make. They are going to go, and my choice is to give them my blessing. I’m working on that, not quite there, but it is the goal.
Jack’s riding teacher (and mine) always reminds him, “hold the reins, but not too tightly”. If they fall out of the hand, it’s a disaster, and if you hold them too tightly it can make the horse really sore and angry. Holding the reins just right, it’s exactly what I’m trying to do as I mother the boys.