Stay Gold, Ponyboy
In our 50-50 custody arrangement, five days is the longest I ever go without seeing The Boy. It sometimes seems much longer. Every once in a while, he walks through the door and I hardly recognize him.
AJ will be ten in three months. That scrambles my brain (says every parent ever). It goes so fast. He's reaching a tipping point. Double figures. Out with The Boy, in with the...whatever social demographers call it. He's growing up. Young man strut and new concerns. He smells bad after soccer practice.
His current favorite word is "crud," which I find oddly heart-warming. A word from my own childhood, that I've never heard out of the mouth of someone older than ten. "Holy crud!" he says. "Kevin Kouzmanoff is cruddy." And I laugh.
"I hope he stays sweet as long as possible," Emet says, and he is that. Sweet. He'll disarm me with no warning. He is also argumentative, convinced he's always right. The other day, he insisted the record for the mile run was under three minutes. I gently told him that was not true, but he insisted. I dropped the conversation--pointedly--and sent him to Google after dinner was done.
On the other hand, I took him on a surprise trip for a scoop of ice cream--one measly scoop--last night and the thanked me with little boy genuineness. Three times.
I was ten, in fifth grade, when I first noticed girls. Didn't know what to do about it yet, but I noticed 'em. "Started kissing them a year later," I told AJ and he predictably screwed up his face and blurted, "Ewwww."
Just wait, buddy. Before you know it.
We have a fantasy baseball team together this season and it's the worst side in the league (this is entirely my fault as I didn't peruse the league specs before drafting and went with, you know, the best players, instead of players that fit the scoring. What kind of idiotic league has categories for singles and save opportunities?). Yet, every night, he's on the computer, checking our team (not helped by the fact our #1 pick, Hanley Ramirez, is currently hitting .200) in a way that describing as "obsessive" would be understating it by a buttload.
He has his own You Tube account now and monitors his viewer numbers. He comes home from school and wants to play with his buddy across the street. Social. Maturing. At his Open House a few weeks back, he showed me a project that illustrated these changes. "I used to..." all the sentences opened and turned on "...but now I..."
"I used to want to be the center of attention," my son wrote, "but now I just want to share with my friends."
He got bullied recently. Escalated from words and taunts to playground shoves. His mother and I reacted quickly, as did the school. No problems since.
Trouble is right around the corner. Bullies, peer pressure, sex education. Teenagers.
I'm the parent who scares him the most. Daddy Discipline. I'm the last to know about things, as he filters his misdeeds first through his mother and then Emet, dipping his toe in the water before I splash punishment. This is a good thing. Boundaries.
It remains a tightrope. Knowing when to rein him in and when to not stifle his enthusiasm. Who knows what sets him off. He wants to be heard, but needs to know when to be quiet. A hard lesson, especially in a house where his Dad is always yelling at umpires on TV.
He still climbs on me when we watch sports together. Doesn't sit next to me. Lays across my lap or on top of me if I'm supine. He laughs at farts and burps and my stupid puns.
I hope he stays sweet as long as possible. Respectful.
He gets out of the car in front of the school. I'll see him in five days. I wonder what he'll be like then?