My family is in an interesting period along this parenting journey.
We are clearly making a major transition as the boys, 12 and 11 years old, respectively, are changing and gravitating away from their parents.
The differences in our days currently compared to years ago are vast and bring on mixed emotions.
Easter morning was yet another example of how things have changed. Rather than a loud early morning of excitement of Easter baskets, rowdiness and candy before church, it was a quiet Easter morning this year. Though it was much more relaxing, the differences were noted throughout the day. The kids opened their Easter baskets at different times because Carson is an early riser and Beckett loves sleeping in on non-school days. There were neither Easter egg hunts nor dress ups for church this year due to life’s changes. It was a ho hum Easter. It was simpler but enjoyed nonetheless for different reasons than in years past.
It’s sad on one hand watching these changes take place, but kids grow up and become more independent. There is an understanding and clear recollection those younger days were exhausting, frustrating and mindboggling. We couldn’t stay in the toddler period forever and thankfully so. Two young kids only 19 months apart required a ton of time, energy and effort for many years. I clearly remember just going to the backyard by myself with the boys was a big deal and typically involved a lot of sweat and usually an injury or three.
While there are tremendous memories from those days when calls for “mommy” and “daddy” seemed incessant, I do not long for those days. They were wonderful and are now memories.
Nowadays, with more social changes taking place especially with our older son, a whole new host of concerns preoccupy our time and prevent spare moments to reflect on days gone by. What was simpler psychologically and mentally was much more demanding physically.
Thanks largely to the kids being much slower starters in the morning, I am generally finding myself with some free time. Carson is an early riser but is perfectly content doing his own thing with technology until we say enough. Though he’s up early (by 6 each morning thanks to an early bedtime), it doesn’t mean he’s eager to do anything. There was a time when if he was awake at least one parent had to monitor him closely, as he was a flight risk and didn’t understand safety and danger. Carson, 11, has become a loner these days and has become shyer than ever. It’s a consequence of the pandemic and his disabilities.
When awake, in Beckett’s case, he would rather not be around his parents at all. I do not find it sad. It’s probably because he’s not always a joy to be around anymore, due to puberty and moods. There are also things clearly bothering him at times he refuses to share with us for whatever reason. He tells me he keeps things to himself because he doesn’t want to sit through a lecture. I respond maybe I can help because I have lived through being a 12-year-old boy. He says times are different now than they were in the ‘80s. I agree with him because technology has clearly changed the dynamics for kids, but I also remind I can sympathize with some of the challenges he seems to be facing socially at times.
It was inevitable he would start to push away as he tries to solve his own problems and maintain some level of privacy and independence. There is an unexpected secrecy he seems to live with that’s bothersome and alarming. He shares little unless threatened with a consequence, which is unfortunate.
I am more concerned about him than anything else. I am told this is a normal progression into the teen years. He’s incredibly impressionable and seems to gravitate to the types of friends his parents are skeptical of these days. We don’t necessarily think they are bad kids, but we can infer from their actions, body language and words these are not the types we want our kids around.
A conversation with him about this point gave some indications of what’s going on with him lately. He remarked how we were being judgmental when coming to conclusions about some friends by their clothes, words and actions without truly getting to know them. It was a good point, but I deflected by making some observations of their actions (which may or may not have been seen from a nearby porch) that were clearly representative of bad decisions by his friends.
I firmly believe remaining connected with him is key, even if it’s challenging and frustrating. That’s why when he came to me at 7:45 on Easter night asking me if I still wanted to play basketball after dismissing the notion earlier I acquiesced. It didn’t hurt that Pam was behind him shaking her head yes vigorously. My only initial reluctance was being tired from having family over, but she was right. It was good to get some guy time in and he shared some concerns I had not heard before about school and other aspects of life.
It says a lot that parenting an Autistic boy is easier right now than our 12-year-old kid.