I’m a little fearful of the newly crowned middle schooler in our family, a middle schooler who in the present moment truly believes that the world and all of its inhabitants were made to revolve around his magnificent prepubescent being. A child who is really intelligent, almost too intelligent because he KNOWS all of the answers, who believes he doesn’t need any adult assistance because HE CAN DO IT, a child who constantly toes the line but never actually crosses that same line and can often be heard saying things like, “I wish you would bring Josh, Jada, Mabel, and Mya to an orphanage then you wouldn’t be nearly as strict. “
Right, that would help, let’s get rid of four of the kids so that Dad and I can focus all of our attention on you and Tate, bright thought kid…. I’m thinking that it might be a better idea to temporarily drop you off at an orphanage but of course I don’t say this. I hold my tongue as a responsible, loving mother should, and smile as I dwell on these fantastically, supreme comebacks that occur, one upon the other, my greatest works flushed down the drain of middle aged forgetfulness, never to be known by this impertinent child, comebacks that would totally trump his too cool, middle school swagger in one gigantic gulp.
In a nutshell, my flesh and blood son, my own precious first born boy who used to be so happy and slightly shy, just a loveable little baby who loved to snuggle with his mama, is just not that pleasant to be around right now and on almost a daily basis utters horrific shock value mutterings under his breath like, “I hate my life” simply in response to a parent informing him that he’s zombied out on the computer long enough or the same sort of response regarding a recent discussion about cell phones going something like this,
Me - “No you can’t have a cell phone like every single other kid in your class because I’m not willing to let this popular device fry your brains out at 10 years old. ”
Him – looking at me with this look of seriously??? How can you be such an ignorant mother??? And then comes the thunderous roar of…. “AGHHHHHHHHHH……...”
Eye roll, dejectedness, head down as he walks away, never looking back, as one walking to his grave.
Me – “Hey Caleb, wait! You still need to do your job!”
More “AGHHHHHHH………“ Head still down, more extreme dejection, this time like he has been informed that his method of execution will be beheading. “Why do I have to sweep? it’s YOUR house. That sucks…..”
I think, mainly to remind myself, “Dear boy, I love you, and Lord grant mercy upon his soul.”
Almost everything in his present world sucks. The pork chops suck, his chores suck, his computer time slot sucks, school sucks, the cat sucks, bedtime sucks, on and on and on, and we don’t even approve of the word “sucks” as an appropriate word; however, it is TRULY a sucky, awful occurrence.
Who has my baby boy become? Why does he fluctuate so severely between joy and despair? This man/child who has no clue who or what he is right now, testosterone beginning to fill his body as he sneaks a peek at any scantily clad woman who graces our television set, which are pretty far and few between with shows like Gator Boys and Wild Man running 24/7, but they do occasionally make an appearance on the Hanes Her Way commercials. A boy who has taken a fanatical interest in the black hairs making an arrival on his legs, and who is starting to have a serious opinion about what he’s going to wear and how he’s going to wear it.
He pushes me right now, he pushes his father, he pushes his siblings, he pushes the family into this weird place while he’s trying to figure out who he is, what he’s all about, what makes him tick, what he will allow to mold and make him, and in the meantime we bang our heads and question our skills, and we pray and pray and pray and pray. And this is with ONE middle schooler! I have two of them next year and then 4 the following year (although Luke doesn’t really count) but still, four of these beings all pushing the boundaries, trying to sort out who the heck they are. Good Lord Help Me.
This child should be able to see past the here and now, the nitty gritty meaninglessness of it all, he has seen the other side of life and into the deeper, darker things that it can hold, he, above all other kids should be able to see the bigger picture, he found his birth father only seconds after he breathed his last. This child knows in his heart of hearts what a blessing life is and how much it really doesn’t suck right now.
I see so much potential, so much intelligence, so many questions, so many accusations when he doesn’t get his way, anger and depression at times, joy and elation at others. A subdued boy who withholds his love and affection for a very elite few who have earned it, and who has grown up looking out for numero uno, and he does it extremely well. He starting looking out for himself after his second birthday because his mother was primarily occupied with his severely handicapped brother, and then his father’s undiagnosed problems, and then his baby sister, and then his father’s brain tumor diagnosis, and then his baby brother, and then his father’s worse brain tumor diagnosis and then our family’s plummet into hell, and then his birth father’s eventual death. This is a strong willed, independent, amazing young man.
But - It can be positively exhausting at times trying to get into his head, trying to stay one step ahead of his manipulation and shock value tactics, trying not to take it personally but taking it personally enough where he doesn’t feel abandoned or rejected, having our hand in just enough but also pulling back, allowing for the freedom of choice where he is able to test the boundaries of right and wrong, test the theories of the rules and regulations that we’ve set in place, and examine the effectiveness of what we’ve taught him to this point. It’s a pushing and a pulling, between the elders and the first born who is hell bent on proving that he is aging and has rights to a greater form of independence when in fact, yes, he is aging, entering an odd, sub human stage known as puberty.
I don’t have many answers. In fact, Google unfortunately doesn’t provide much on this topic. I continue to pray and continue to talk to him and continue to reach out, hoping that some of my infinite wisdom is sticking and some of it I’m sure is not and just praying for the day when he finally sorts it all out, and in the meantime, we….
Just keep livin!!