Friday, October 24, 2014

A letter to my tween...for 30 years from now.

Hi son.

It's me.  The mom that is currently set on destroying your life.  You know- the one who calls your teachers and takes away electronics and is keeping you from seeing your friends tonight?  Yep, that's me.

I'm just here, in my room, writing my feelings out while you lay on your bed crying yours into a pillow.  You just got done telling me that I am ruining your life and enjoy doing so.  I kept my own face steely rather than allowing my eyes to well up with tears like they wanted to.  You stormed up to your room in the throes of despair.

Look, kid- it isn't that your antics are end-of-the-world awful.  You aren't a bad kid.  Really.  Everyone thinks you are intelligent, funny, confident and a natural leader.  As I spoke with the school administrator today we both had a chuckle at the crazy antics that distract from the fact that you are, at your core, an awesome young person.  And I'll even admit that it was hard to keep a straight face when I told your other parental units what it was that you got this latest detention for.  I mean, if I'd seen it in a movie I would have laughed and rolled my eyes and hoped the teacher drinks wine on a Friday night.  And when you are reading this and you have your own tween to contend with, I'm sure we will share a good giggle about your boyhood antics.

But I can't admit that to you right now.  Because today it was leading the whole class in a jarring rendition of "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring" while a flustered substitute teacher attempted to explain a math concept.  And it was a lunch detention and a call to mom and a missed opportunity to go to the Monster Bash at the school.  Today it was relatively harmless.

But what happens if I give in?  If I tell you that this wasn't SO big a deal and I know that you REALLY want to see that pretty little girl with long brown hair, so I'll let you off the hook "just this time".  That's the problem, son.  I've let you off the hook "just this time", too many times.  And if I keep letting you off the hook, someday it may be something more serious than chanting and disrupting class.  And how am I to expect that you will understand the seriousness of the consequences if you are accustomed to being let off the hook after a good speech?

It hurts to disappoint you.  It hurts to know that I am the reason you are sad, and that even if I AM acting in your best interest you won't see it for many years.  It downright sucks.  I gave you life and I have given you everything I can think of to make that life better, starting from the moment that pregnancy test read positive.  It goes against every fiber of my being to be part of anything that will hurt you.  After so many years of rushing to stop tears the minute they flow, it kills me to cause them.  And to know that if I am lucky, you will understand why in, oh, roughly 20 years.  Right now that feels like a very, very long time to me.  I promise it feels longer than a Monster Bash.

I always tell you that it is important to admit when you are wrong, and to fix it.  Well, son, I was wrong.  I went too long giving in when the tears flowed and you said you were sorry.  I went too long letting you think that a well voiced apology works like magic to correct a situation.  And this is me, correcting that.

We won't go to the Monster Bash tonight and you will stay home, hiding from your evil mom.  I will try to keep busy doing other things and repeating to myself "I am doing the right thing" 10,000 times.  I will mostly believe it, but there will still be a little part of my heart that aches for your sadness.

If you read this in 30 years, I'll assume I had you read it after I get a call from you telling me how frustrating it is to parent a tween whose parents "don't understand me AT ALL".  So here is what I will say to you: Yeah, it sucks.  But if you are reading this, that means you survived childhood.  Hopefully you are mostly unscathed.  Hopefully I am, too.

I told the Assistant Principal that I am going to be so filled with pride and joy if you manage to navigate childhood some day.  She laughed and said you will.  She thinks you are a great kid.  Guess what?  Your parents think so, too.  We think you can be a complete pain in the butt sometimes, but we absolutely adore you anyhow.  I'd imagine if you are really honest with yourself, you kinda feel the same way we do.

P.S.  I'm saving all your antics so that should you choose to become a comedian as an adult, you can use the material you dreamed up at 11.  I promise it will be better received at that point.  You're welcome.

Love you, Sky B.  Forever and ever, even when it doesn't feel like I do.