My son has just turned 10, and since then I’ve been on a weird high, like I’ve got some sort of promotion or something. I feel there should be a cash prize, or telegram from the Queen:
Congratulations: you have reared an offspring to double figures!
I feel proud. Proud of him: the fine child he has grown up to be – my happy, energetic (!), kind, imaginative and hilarious boy. And also, daringly, bashfully – I feel quite proud of me. I have not been broken by terrible nights, poo and sick eruptions, homework arguments, fearful, head-clenching worry and heart-bursting love. Or: I have been broken, and been remade stronger.
I’m not smug though. Boy, am I not smug! Every day is a new struggle, a fresh fail and a lesson learnt. I know some basic childcare stuff, yes, and I know my child very well. But they change, and you change. Parenting is not a test I’ve taken and passed.
Of course, it’s a meaningless milestone to him – as I tried to hug him sentimentally for the tenth time that day, he ducked free for the ninth time (he allowed me one birthday cuddle), “Gerroff, I want to build my Garmadon Mech!” My misty eyes were wasted on his present tunnel vision: both the wrapped “present” and the moment in time. No reminiscing about the first time he smiled – not just a wind-smile, or dread about A-Levels and girls for him. I kept it all in – along with the Sex Talk I’d been drafting in my head. A child’s 10th birthday breakfast is not the time or place for the full birds and bees.
He hasn’t changed overnight, but I can’t ignore the looming presence of Teenagedom. I am not ready for it. Whatever It is like. I daren’t read or listen to too many accounts, but I know it till be “‘challenging”. More so than the last ten years? I’d like to think not – or at least that the massive learning curve I’ve been surfing for the last decade will have at least given me something to draw on when his voice breaks. Right?
Another thing about your kid entering his second decade: you feel ANCIENT! Or at least, I do. Ancient, yet still pretty much as clueless as when he was born and I was a relatively young woman. We now have a new stage – a new decade – to navigate. The feeling of awe and bewilderment as I look at my son, now standing up to my chin, (and I’m fairly tall!) is not that dissimilar from staring at him as a tiny new baby. What now, my darling?
That can wait. I want him to prepare him for the physical and emotional changes his hormones will bring; I want to cure his acne before he even gets it; I want him to know what emoji sequence to send his first girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. But not yet.
He may be 10, but he’s still my baby.
Happy birthday, darling.