This week, my eldest son turned 10. Ten! It’s been 10 years since they handed me that serious, redheaded baby in the hospital and ridiculously expected me to be responsible for him. How is it possible it seems both like yesterday and a million years ago? When exactly did my precious cooing bundle become a surly, stinky pre-teen? I need time to seriously slow down. I don’t have little boys any more. And I’m feeling a little less than armed as time continues to march.
Diapers yield to skid-marked underwear. There must be lectures on the proper application of deodorant and Clearasil. What IS it exactly about young boys that makes them smell the way they do? What adolescent pheromone fires up that smells like sweat, curry, and onions? He doesn’t even eat curry or onions. Yet regardless of the frequency and enthusiastic bathing, he still smells like a sweaty fry cook. And just between you and me? I know more about…erhem…family jewel care than I ever, ever wanted. I’ll leave it at that.
Gone is the ability to buy adorable Carter’s matching outfits with unbearably cute sayings on them. Goodbye to darling matching outfits and adorable shoes. Welcome to the world of graphic tees, track pants, flip flops and and a general refusal to wear anything your lame-o mother picks out for you. Hair combing? That’s for real losers as it turns out. As are hair cuts, for that matter.
I’ll confess, I’m a little scared, y’all. What am I going to do when they won’t stop growing? Evidently a brick on their heads is not going to stop the maturation process. I am good with skinned knees, bumped heads, and fever reduction…but what am I going to do when my young men decide they’re interested in romance? It won’t do, I tell you. No one’s good enough for my precious pearls. I want to trap them in the house with me. I’m gonna go all Norman Bates’ mom on ’em. No one but me for the rest of their lives!
Driving? Are you kidding? When you so much as close your eyes to sneeze, you can wrap your car around a telephone pole. It’s like ripping your heart out, putting arms and legs on it, and then letting it get behind the wheel in big city traffic. I can’t, I tell you. I want to wrap my children in bubble wrap and make them stay in my living room. Isn’t there a playpen that fits pre-teens?
Fart jokes. Bodily fluids. A bathroom that smells eerily similar to a New York City subway car. Yep, my babies are long gone, now to be replaced by hairy, lumbering beings who can make more groceries disappear in a week than a small African nation. I’m not prepared, y’all. Surely it won’t be long before they figure out I can’t carry them to time out. And then what?
Yeah, they don’t really tell you at the hospital you’ve got a person there who just happens to be a baby for a very short and fleeting time. I don’t know why this knowledge ever escaped me. That time marches on, and eventually it wears a very expensive and large sneaker. And really, really protests when you use pet nicknames to refer to him or you say “go potty.”
So pray for me, dear reader, as I blunder forth into the unknown territory that is raising pre-teens. May I have the strength to survive puberty as well as whatever pablum the Cartoon Network may throw at them. Hopefully the Brady Bunch episode that tackled Peter’s voice change has somewhat prepared me for what comes next. TV moms always did it better than me, anyway. Ready or not, for better or for worse, my boys are becoming men.