The other day, he asked me to play basketball after school. I had plans to go to the gym but, of course, I abandoned them quickly because you just don’t say no when you’re almost-14-year-old son asks you to do ANYTHING, but especially a “guy” thing.
So we go outside and bounce the ball around and I ask him “Is this a joke? Are you videotaping me for a funny Vine or something?” And he looks at me like I’m crazy and says “No! I just want to play basketball with you.”
And that is exactly what raising a teenage boy is like, for me, so far. I felt like Josie Grossie in Never Been Kissed. All excited that a boy asks her to prom only to find out it was a cruel, cruel joke.
I couldn’t believe that he actually wanted to spend time with me. On purpose. Because he likes playing basketball with me. His dorky old mother. Of course it had to be a joke. But it wasn’t.
I’ve never had so much fun playing basketball in my life! It was freezing and I couldn’t feel my fingers, but I didn’t care. He even tried to let me win. We laughed, we played and then we came inside and made dinner. We’ve played a couple more times since then. I never say no.
And it continues. I’m like the smitten teenage girl in the corner at the dance just hoping and praying that he’ll notice me. Only it’s my son. I miss him so much it hurts, yet I’m glad he’s growing up and has his own existence. I try to find cool songs, funny memes, awesome soccer videos, scary movies, make yummy dinners, ANYTHING that I can to connect with him. If we end up hanging out together, that’s a bonus.
Sometimes he comes in my room before bed to say goodnight and we always exchange “I love you”s. Sometimes he even says it first. He’s taller than me now and I notice it when he lets me hug him. Most of the time I make him hug me back and he squeezes me extra tight like a joke. But I love it. I wake him up each morning by kissing his head because that’s the only time of day he’ll let me. I watch every single video he deems worthy of showing to me even if I don’t “get” them. I listen to every story, every joke. I laugh in all the right places.
His voice cracks one minute and is super deep the next. He sleeps late. He forgets to brush his teeth but always does his hair. He wears cologne and deodorant and cares about what he wears. He’s had a girlfriend for 9 months. He’s constantly watching videos, watching Netflix, playing FIFA, drinking slushies, playing soccer, playing basketball, blowing off homework, messing up his room, being a teenage boy. The next minute he’s holding Olivia’s hand while we walk through the zoo, he’s picking her up and spinning her around in the driveway, he’s offering to push her wheelchair, he’s showing Matthew how to do that one juggle trick for soccer, he’s jumping on the trampoline with Matthew and his friends. Olivia and Matthew beam like the sun is within them when he’s extra sweet to them. I totally get it. I’m sure I do too.
I guess I would say that raising a teenage boy, so far, to me, is just really strange. You simultaneously want to strangle them, have them cuddle with you and squeeze them tight. I feel like time is running out for me to teach him all of the important things I’m supposed to teach him, yet I feel like he’s got to learn a lot of it on his own. I want to protect him and have him at home with me, yet I want him to socialize and hang out with friends more. I want him to get all A’s because I know he’s capable, but I don’t want to constantly nag him and pressure him. It makes no sense, yet it makes perfect sense.
I guess that’s raising children in a nutshell, huh? It makes no sense, yet it makes perfect sense.