As my boys get older, I’ve found it’s getting more and more challenging to write honestly about their lives. I’m not the first blogger to run into this, not by a long shot, but it’s not exactly something I was ready for. I’ve managed to keep their identities mostly hidden (for crying out loud, I wrote an entire book without using their names or initials, big hat tip to my editor Sarah for her assistance with that bit of fun), but I know it’s the internet and it’s permanent and I don’t want them to have even more to discuss with a therapist in the future. So it’s a balancing game.
Back when the brown stinky was throwing itself into the air-moving device, I wrote a lot about the hell (and it was hell) we were living. It gave me an outlet and helped me find others who had gone through it and made it to the other side. They were not entirely unscathed, but they got through the fiery coals and reached back a hand to me. Gratitude doesn’t begin to cover it. It’s an intense kind of gratitude, indescribable but deeply felt. And now that we’re in the eye of the storm (between what we survived and what I know is coming up next year he’ll-be-a-teen-please-hold-me), it’s my turn to reach back a hand. I talk to a lot of parents, and I see myself of years past. I remember and still viscerally feel what they’re dealing with every day. It’s so much better now, but I’ll never forget.
My son is growing into himself. Finally. Pulling him from school last year to homeschool allowed that. It allowed him to be who he truly is and not what remained after every adult in his life took a turn ramming him into a mold that didn’t fit. He is more confident in himself, more affectionate, more…more everything positive, whereas when he was in school it was more everything negative (frustrated, irritated, anxious, confrontational). It’s taken a year and a bit to see this, but it really shone brightly this past weekend.
Saturday was the VEX Robotics championship. It was an all-day event, 90 minutes from our house, with little chance of winning a thing. And his team didn’t win a thing, coming in 39th of 56 teams. Sounds terrible, until you consider that they were likely the youngest kids there and started their robot 2 1/2 months ago when the other teams began 10 months ago. So they actually kicked butt. But we really saw a different child that day. Tom was there when the judges interviewed the team. A stood tall and answered their questions, discussed their robot, and basically transformed from the child we knew into the man he was going to become. This is the kid who once had a full-on panic attack over the thought of standing in front of people to sing, who would refuse to do anything that might trigger stage fright. He is growing into himself right in front of our eyes, and it is glorious.
When I think of the hours of therapies, and my God the cost of those therapies (paid entirely out of pocket), and the constant vigilance, and the looks and the midnight sobbing marathons and the homework battles and the sheer pain of raising him to this point… Seeing him become more comfortable with himself, more confident, more him…it’s been worth the hours of therapies and the ungodly cost and being a hard-ass parent and dealing with all the crap. It sucked little green frogs the whole time and I hope to hell to never live it again, but we made it, at least this far.
It’s the eye of the storm, that I know. The teen years are looming, and frankly that scares the everlovin’ crap outta me. I think we deserve a pass on teen trauma, simply because the previous decade was so hard, but I doubt Murphy and his little Law will allow that. So I’ll take the current peace and gather strength for the impending teen storm. But damn, I’m thrilled to be at this place at this moment.
That said, I have to go dynamite the Tech Whisperer out of bed. He may only be 11, but the teen sleep schedule has descended with a resounding thud.