As I sit and write this post I am both happy and sad. Happy that Michael is deep in puberty and pushing away from Dad and I as any normal tween almost teen would do. He is asking to do more things alone and for more independence which is a good thing. Then there are the surly comments, the sighs when Mom or Dad ignore him, all part of the program too. I laugh these off. While I didn’t expect all of this to be occurring before 13 years old, I also did not expect to be missing some of the things I used to be annoyed about- taking him to three different parks a day, having to supervise him and listen at the “Look Mommy” every three seconds, and doing things alone this year that last year he couldn’t wait to do like walking up the street at the park on the track only breaking for Michael to go running into the splash pad. We had to stay till the park pretty much was deserted at 9 pm.
This year, he will occasionally come to the park for a walk with me, but is too old for the splash pad. It’s understandable on both fronts, but as I walked the track myself tonight enjoying the fact I could go around as many times as I wanted to and not have to sit with all the noisy kids at the splash pad, I felt strangely sad. That phase of Michael’s life is over and we have moved into the next phase. I wasn’t ready, but it happened. Did I enjoy him enough at that age? I think I did and now I must let go. The same thing happened at other ages as he outgrew toddler hood the little boyhood, but with those I do not remember being anything but happy. A friend of mine used to tell me how sad she was that her baby was growing up. I couldn’t relate to that. As much as I enjoyed many moments in baby and toddler hood, there was more stressful moments, sleepless nights, and of course, Michael’s diagnosis, so I was glad to be moving forward to better communication, toilet training and other things. But now I actually am starting to see it, the growing up phase, with all the pros and cons, and reminding myself that it is normal to feel loss, but that life goes on.
It’s important to love and appreciate your child at every stage, spend time with them doing quality things, whatever matters to them at that particular age. Though he is not all cutesy cuddly anymore, he still wants to share things with me, spend time with me doing walks and bike rides, and cares about what I think. In some ways this age needs you more than ever to set the stage for how they will handle themselves as adults. I am ready and proud of Michael. For all the areas of struggle, he has made so many more surges forward into independence. I reminded myself that tonight after a busy day at his sports camp he chose to chill out with his music and videos as he deserved too. Enjoy and respect every age and you won’t have regrets as a parent.
Exceptional Parents, how do you handle the ups and downs of your Exceptional Child’s growth? Remember, they are on their own curve. Respect that curve, love them, and be there for them as support cheering them on. As long as they know you are in their corner, you can’t go wrong. Until next time.