Last night I was far too deep inside the “book” I was reading (it was an e-book, I can’t deny that I use those) and was long past tired, so it wasn’t until close to 1:30 am that I finally closed the iPad and pushed the switch on my bedside lamp. It took me at least 20 minutes to doze off and drop into a solid sleep. Not so solid, however, that I didn’t immediately awaken when my almost 12 year old son appeared at the side of my bed. “Mama, I had a bad dream.” I glanced at the clock before I scooted over against the wall and held the covers up for him to climb in beside me: 3:17. After a few minutes spent watching him, I felt confident enough in his slumber to close my eyes, trying to drift off. He moved about a bit and then, “Mama, my head hurts.” I asked him if he wanted a pill or just an ice pack and he decided on both. I checked the time when I climbed over top of him and back into bed: 3:43. Once he was lying still for 15 minutes I climbed back out and took myself and my alarm across the hall to his empty bed. I lay awake a while; listening in case he needed me; unable to settle because I was worried about not getting enough sleep. 7 am came fairly quickly. HardWorker was already gone, I had some time before I needed to get BoyGenius up and into the shower, and tried to plot out just when in the day I would fit a couple of naps in. My Fitbit app advised me that I had managed only four hours and six minutes of actual sleep — nothing I could do to change that. It was going to be a long Monday.
For a few weeks now, I’ve been getting hit with the realization that I am about to be the parent of a 12 year old. How did this happen? I didn’t really plan on this. I mean, I know that’s how it works, if you’re extremely lucky: your children grow up and you all grow older together. But seriously, my plan was to have a baby, maybe a toddler. A 12 year old? I never really thought that far ahead. He’s in grade 6. And the school year is more than half over. His birthday parties now consist of 3-4 friends, pizza, a movie, and some video games. To be fair, they’ve been like that for a few years already; he’s always seemed two to three years ahead of his chronological age. Not that we’ve rushed him, or anyone’s expected him to be more mature, or anything like that; he’s just always had this “presence” and common sense, logical thought process and a wicked quick sense of humour, an easy-going nature and a thoughtful need for fairness, all combined with a solid sense of uniqueness and self. While most of those character traits have stood BoyGenius in good stead over his 12 years, he has also had to put up with disparaging comments about his sensitivity, his choice of hairstyle or shoe colour, his apparent “know-it-all”-ness, his book and movie preferences.
I still look at him in wonder at least once a day. He makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he makes me worry, he makes me proud. There is still so much for him to learn, but there is sooooo much that he already knows. There are things he does that frustrate me, and there are things he does that make my heart swell with amazement at who he has already become in his 12 short years. And the thing is, the person that he has become, and that he still has to grow into, that person has been there since day one. That personality was already in place with the first wave of his hand and kick of his foot in utero; the good-natured-ness, the sense of humour — already there.
Sometimes I miss my baby. Sometimes I miss my toddler. Most times I know that the young man sprawled across our couch or searching for food 15 minutes after dinner is the same guy. When my almost 12 year old gets awakened by a bad dream and needs to snuggle with Mama I am absolutely sure.
I love you, Schnucki.