As Dex grows up, it feels like every day we find a new way to communicate with each other. If you have kids, you will remember those early days when every time you turned around there was another milestone. That is why many of us started blogs, to capture all of that. Entering teenhood is another renaissance – but the milestones are so subtle, you have to squint to see them.
Dex has a big project that is due this week, something that could frankly change everything in our lives. He has been a bit lackadaisical about it and we’ve been teetering on that parental edge where you don’t know when to push, when to cajole, or when to let them do what they do – pass or fail. It’s a big project. I keep reminding myself he is only 12. The pressure these kids have in middle school is astronomical. But if he wants this, he has to get it done.
Partly due to our approaches, partly due to Bryan’s huge doses of patience and partly because Dex and I are so alike – everything I suggest is met with resistance. So, in addition to finding new paths as a parent while Dex grows up, I feel like I am on eggshells. I know it’s my job to put aside my ego to nurture his, but it’s also hard as a person to let your child fail. Well, it’s hard for me as a person. I am sure teachers have to face this every day – allowing pupils to make mistakes and learn from them.
And Dex has had great teachers, so in some ways we’ve had it easy. They have pushed him when he needed it and we have just come behind with little nudges. But this time, it’s huge. It’s not any one teacher’s responsibility and again, at 12, where should the impetus come from? Do we let him fail but then miss an opportunity he’ll regret? Do I stay out of it because we rub each other wrong, which leads to distance between us? Do we coach him with special care only to throw him into a den of lions with later projects of this kind?
I don’t have the answers and I am sure we will make a lot of mistakes along the way. But these are the new questions we ask.
Instead of helping him to walk and to read, it’s a whole new phase of parenting, and I never seem ready.