Carefree summer. That sounds so delicious, doesn't it?
Don't you instantly think of all the things summery that delight your senses? You can literally smell the warm breeze or the hot tar after a thunderstorm. You can see the beautiful flowers popping - from tiger lilys, to hydrangeas, and to black-eyed susans. You can feel the sand between your fingers on a lovely beach day. You can hear all of nature's wildlife twittering to and fro tending to their own offspring.
Snap. Crackle. Pop.
You are a mom. Your "carefree" days of summer are a long ago memory from a childhood that seems many light years away! You smell body odor and NO (!), it is not your own. You see whiskers growing from your son's chin that you KNOW were not there yesterday. Heck, were those hairs there an hour ago? You feel exhausted. You hear all of the relative grunts, groans, growls, and gooberness that comes along with 11 year old boy territory. Wait. Let me rephrase that - 11 year old manchild thing that is in the full throes of puberty.
I grew up with boys. I "know" boys. I always wanted a boy first, and honestly, I was slightly disappointed when the nurses announced, "It's a girl!" I wanted a boy first because I was familiar with them (or so I thought). I wanted a boy to protect his younger siblings. I knew I would be tough as a parent and I figured a boy could handle my rules.
So, I got my son second. I was thrilled to death - my husband was proud; what man doesn't want a son to carry on his legacy. My blonde baby was sweet. My Jacob was so much easier - he was laid back and we had worked out some of our first time parent neurotics on my oldest. My Jacob quickly demonstrated that he was quirky and funny and totally outside of the box! He was obsessed with dinosaurs, Bob The Builder and all things alien.
I think my Jacob has been abducted by aliens.
Somewhere in the course of the past year, my sweet, little, boy child Jakie was taken from me. Yes. Taken. In his place, well, there's this thing that is part-child, part-man and quite possibly fragments of alien DNA. Yes, I tell you, it's TRUE! Give me my Jakie back immediately so no one has to get hurt. Do NOT make me go all Sigourney Weaver on yo' ass!
In the passing of fall and winter months, my XY child really morphed. Parenting became an entirely NEW game. Remember I said I'm strict? Well, this child resisted and emotions erupted (mostly mine). As spring dallied around, I found myself very easily frustrated with this stranger living under my roof. I went as far as to tell this strange being, "You do not like my rules? This is my house!" (SHHHHH, I have NOT turned into my parents). After a family meeting (read: intervention); I gave up. Something I NEVER do. I told my husband and my oldest daughter if they could parent this alien better than I could, well, have at it. I got many a pleas thereafter to please step in and help the situation. I kindly and quietly said, "Thanks, but no thanks. I think you've got this!" (And yes, I evilly giggled and cackled in horrible delight!).
Somehow, by summer - we have reached an amiable meeting of the minds, of the emotions, of the give and take behaviors of children and parents alike. Now, even though this Man-Child thing is still residing in my home; the outer reptilian shell has cracked enough.....that I can see my Jakie is still underneath there!
Sweet hugs from my boy have been replaced with fake punches to the face, fully accompanied by the whooshing sound effects. Instead of making the Mom-Face of Discipline that I'm famous for, I smile and give him a fake punch back to the chin or to the gut with my own horrific sound effect. We laugh and share a moment.
Tales from his day are now entirely one-sided dialogs about how he conquered his latest video game or what neat things he found along his way of Skyrim (his newest video game). I smile. I nod as if I understand the strange alien jargon of Skryim and video-gaming. I share with him his newfound love of scary movies and laugh as he teases me for warning him of some VERY scary movies - movies he found to be a complete joke (come on, Jakie - "The Shining"! Dude, that movie STILL scares me to this day!).
My summer of 2012 has been nice and more carefree. I am learning how to connect (again) with this giant Man-Child (he's 5'7" at 11, size 11 in men's shoes) who will be entering middle school in a month. I am carefully picking through the outer layer and finding that my sweet little Jakie is still within; even if he booms at me with a deep and often times, startling, near-baritone voice.
I will go home and hug him. And then I will "punch" him in the face to redeem myself. :-)