My son, Brian, is seventeen. He is 5'3" and about 115 pounds...a late bloomer. He gets it from his Dad, who graduated from high school and weighed something like 125 pounds at 5'10". He also wasn't helped by having Crohn's Disease (he's in remission, thankfully) and being among the pickiest eaters on the planet.
Brian came into the world at a whopping 8 pounds 5 1/2 ounces after a nine month gestation. He was totally different from his sister (other than the obvious) and required very little in the way of care or maintenance. He was content to sit in the corner and play with his feet, and as he got older, his biggest thrill was to crawl over to steal his sister's Cheerios. He even put himself to sleep. He slept through the night at eight weeks.
Did I mention that he was a beautiful baby? People would actually stop me and tell me how gorgeous he was. And even though he was mine...they weren't exaggerating.
Raising Brian was a joy, and was very simple. You do have to realize that my point of reference was his sister, whose first five years are a virtual blur to me. Other than a few select memories of curly fries, a fit in the middle of Wal-Mart and hiding from me in the then Gayfers Department Store, all I remember is being tired, frazzled and being required to rock her incessantly.
Brian refused to feed himself until after he turned four. Oh, he would hold a fork, and would even act like he was eating, but it was all just a facade. He was also a food critic of the highest magnitude, and would rear his platinum blonde curly haired self back to stare at something foreign I might have thought was getting by him. Not so. He survived on cereal, pasta, and scrambled eggs.
When he started school, I started packing him peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly) and he ate these until he was in the 8th grade. By then, he started eating corn, green beans, broccoli, potatoes, and rice. We could count the number of foods he would eat on our fingers and toes.
Among his favorites was chicken fingers. He ate so many of these, I would not have been shocked had he sprouted feathers. He also started eating McDonald's hamburgers - plain - but only because he wanted the french fries.
Now that he is grown, he takes himself to purchase his beloved chicken fingers (which he eats with barbecue sauce), sweet tea (he doesn't drink colas much because of the Crohn's) and french fries. He went to at least three fast food establishments so often that people actually started fixing his food the second that he walked in the door. I realize that this is NOT good. But, when you want to put weight on a kid...nothing beats fast food for this. He needed calories. He found them. I've had people tell me that we should regulate his diet more carefully. As long as he is in remission...there is no problem eating whatever he wants to eat.
Brian is now a junior in high school. My great sweet kid with the dimples and the bright blue eyes is a teenager. He and I do not have the close relationship that I had so hoped for once his sister was out on her own. I try, but much like I have never understood why a Mom's change of life and a girl's teenage years coincide often...I hate that I am at this point with my son when he is big time hormonal from having three years behind in growth on overdrive for the past year.. I miss my boy.
So, for the past three days, I have tried to be SuperMom. I'm trying to be kind. This has resulted in me doing SIX loads of laundry, sweeping gradu out from under his bed, being winked at by something living in a cup that I swear could probably cure cancer, and making two pitchers of tea. As I write this I am down to TWO more loads, and then I have the task of figuring out what still fits and what doesn't. I'm betting that about 75% of what I just washed is donated to Goodwill or put on eBay...the Polos anyway.
Because he was self reliant (except for the feeding), was always honest, and made excellent grades, we allowed him the latitude to not be hounded. This may or may not have been a mistake. Last year, he didn't try his best...and it showed. Oh, it is nothing like the wrong crowd or weekend drinking binges that other parents are dealing with at this age. I mean, he is home most of the time, and if he drank, the medication he takes would land him in the hospital. It was just the difficulty of being 16 and having every restaurant offer you the kids' menu that was wearing on him.
He's past a lot of that now. He had a little girlfriend over the summer. He has a part time job at a gym, and he can wire anything in your car you want wired. He's quite brilliant at that. He has also promised to do better in school this year since I think that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I do pity his future roommates, though.
But amid all of the trying to be the perfect mother, I have found that my self-reliant kid really just wants me to get out and exercise. To go to the gym, and to feel better about myself so that when he is gone...in less than three years...I won't be sad. So, he's started the breaking away process prematurely. And of course, what this means for me is that I'm not handling it very well.
Nobody said that raising boys was easy. Even good boys.
So, mothers of little boys...remember to hug them tight, enjoy their Spiderman pajamas, and if they want you to "play Legos" with them...by all means...play. I'd love that privilege right now.
Sorry to be overly sentimental, but you know, life is just what it is sometimes. And while this same kid can amaze me, anger me, and annoy me, he is apart from me...as much as I hate that. I also understand why people start treating their animals like their children when the kids grow up. I'm shockingly close to that right now.
So, as I look at him grow into the man he is going to be one day, I only hope that God is working mightily on this boy. I also hope that there is a godly vertically challenged, bright, beautiful, neat freak of a girl out there who will be his helpmate. Because judging by my recent experience. He's going to need some serious help. At least in the realm of housekeeping. But I have faith that this boy is also going to be a man of God, and will one day let me see glimpses of the little guy he once was. The little guy that I miss desperately...even though he is in the next room excitedly discussing with his Dad some headset he bought with his own money. Later!