Bryan stayed home with Dex for the first two years; it's always given them a special bond. I have never been jealous (OK, maybe just a little), but I have always attributed their ability to get along to time spent and compatible interests. Not to say that Dex and I don't have a good relationship, or that we don't have our own special things we do together. It's just that we've always been able to push each others buttons more than anyone else, ever. As Dex approaches teenhood (he's nearly 12.5), it's becoming more and more clear this is actually because we are so much alike. We both like (need) to be right. We both get defensive (angry) when pushed into a corner. We both get emotional (illogical) when we feel attacked. One thing no one ever tells you when having kids is how it feels to parent your own face. A lot of people talk about how Dex looks like Bryan, and he does. But his eyes are mine. So I am looking into my own face as I watch my son become a full-blown teen and exhibit full-blown teen behaviors. When I mention this to my mom, I only get a little snicker - or sometimes silence - basically to be interpreted as: PAYBACKS.
Our son will be 12 next month and for the most part, except for his premature beginnings, his life has been relatively stress free. As parents, we try to keep it that way, but we also feel it is our job to tell him about the world. We've always shared news at age appropriate levels. He's known about September 11 since very early on, especially since his birthday is close to that date, but in general terms. His school has been great; talking about tragedy with increasing detail as his maturity grew. However, we have been at a loss how to explain the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri, this week. Yes, we told him what happened to Trayvon Martin. Yes, the legal system failed Trayvon as much as the vindictive racism of George Zimmerman. But in Ferguson, there are so many things I can't even believe, how do I explain it to my kid?
Dex is at summer camp in the park again this year. It's had its ups and downs this time around, partly because he is at the upper age limit for the camp. He still loves hanging with his friends, swimming, crafts - all that summer camp stuff. But he is getting really frustrated with the methods of some of the counselors, who are treating them like kids half their age. Recently he got in trouble for something and was sent to time out. Fine, except they never really explained what he did wrong. Partly because it's a big camp full of kids running around like maniacs in the sun, but partly because they just don't seem to understand that the older kids will want to have more explanation.
That's the term Dex uses to refer to cursing. "Colorful language." I am not even sure where he picked it up, but he is not very fond of it. "He is annoying. He uses colorful language all the time." The funny thing is, I have quite the potty mouth myself, although I have tried hard over the years to curb it in front of Dex. And generally, we have not made cursing an issue around the house. We have always talked about it in terms of consequences.
That's a bit of an exaggeration but Dex is 11.5 - apparently the exact age that pushes a child (mine, at least) from tween peckishness to full on tween angst. He's a great kid. He'll be a great kid through his teen years and into adulthood. I have full faith in that. He's just entering that time when he is becoming his own person and most importantly, separating from us. Part of that separation includes thinking he knows everything and thinking we are annoying, weird, and embarrassing.