How is it that we arrived at this place; so quickly arrived, here. Already, God? Inevitably, I knew the time would come. But so soon?
My son does not find it cool to speak to his mother in public places anymore. I thought I had a few years left of being a real human. He is eleven. I still fit into my skinny jeans. He still has a bedtime. I still try to look like the MOP (a.k.a. mother-of-preschoolers)that I truly am. Am I missing something here? I did not receive the memo that I would be considered weird already. I knew it was coming, but isn’t eleven a bit young for not speaking to your parent in public?
I teach at the same school where my children attend, and this was a choice on my part. So that I could be near them. So that I would be able to see their Christmas concerts, talent shows and science fair exhibits. So that if they forgot their lunch order, I would be in the same building. Or, if they needed a drive to school, I could offer them one without fear of being late for work. Or if they needed a last-minute bus pass, I’d have it covered. Or if they needed a hug, I would be just around the corner. It was suppose to be not just convenient, it would also be cool to have Mom at school. Right?
I thought wrong.
I thought it would be a novelty to be under the same roof as they are after working so many years, off and on in between maternity leaves, in other schools in the board.
To set the scene, I must say that this year has been a learning curve for me in many ways. I am teaching a grade level that is completely new to me. Kindergarten is lots of fun, but far more work than I anticipated. Added to that, I am in a new school, adjusting there to the school climate and culture of the staff. Added to this workload is the busyness of committee meetings, specialists meetings for a student with special needs and co-ordinating and introduction of a new extracurricular activity at school, a pep squad. Life does not slow down for anyone, least of all those of us who crave just a slice of tranquility every once in a while. Wishful thinking. I won’t even start on my busy life outside of school.
In spite of all this, the biggest challenge, and might I say biggest surprise of all, has been my son’s reaction to my presence in the school. He finds me annoying. Embarrassing. Weird.
Today was the last day of Winter Carnival at school, and there was to be a concert put on by the Grade 6 students celebrating the music of the Beatles. My son and his group were performing Helter Skelter, off The White Album from 1968.
Sam was not as excited about his lip synching debut as I was, but out of respect for him, I did say that if he were to opt out, I would explain to his music teacher that he was not comfortable with the limelight. I was there to look out for him. I would do that for him. Because I am there, in the school.
At about 1:15 p.m., the students gathered for the assembly/concert, and I noticed Sam sitting in the middle of the gym floor. There was no one around, and I thought I would slip over and ask him what time he would be singing, as it had been decided that he would go through with the song. I knelt down beside him on the floor, and asked him in a quiet voice when his group would be going up on stage.
What happened next literally knocked me off my feet. Seriously. He pushed me. I started to careen, and I could feel myself falling backward. In the middle of that gym floor, I grabbed his arm tightly and squeezed. I honestly don’t remember what I said next. I was so shocked that he would do such an outright, disrespectful thing to his Mom. I think I told him something to that effect. At least, I hope I did. I forget, as a numbing sensation and wave of anger started to quickly come over me.
Just to be sure that the message was driven home to him, that this is not a cool thing to do to anyone, including your mother, we had a talk after school with his Dad present. I was forceful with my words. I also had consequences that were brought to bear. Then, he was sent to his room to process this information while I still privately fumed in the kitchen.
I am still unsure how we arrived at this place, this pre-adolescent no-man’s land. It is new territory to be charted. Nor am I aware of exactly what to do, at this point, other than pray. And hold my ground.
It is hard realizing that your baby boy is no longer that little tyke you once could look in the eye and sternly say “no” to, and that was enough. It is hard to let go, but still hold on tightly for dear life.
I am sure that there will be more, hard things to come. Raising kids is not for the faint-of-heart. We are on the precipice of puberty. This is both exciting and terrifying all at once. It will be the grace of God that gets me through to the other side. That, and a good dose of tough love.