Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Big Brother Effect

One of the bittersweet aspects of parenting is: the darn kids just keep changing on you.  You might barely have time to figure out babies, and suddenly they're toddlers. You master toddlerhood, and they spring into preschool. You get a grip on preschool, and they charge off into the elementary school years. And here we are: ever since one of Derek's classmates turned 10, back in October, he's been referring to himself as "almost-ten".  "Fine", I thought, "that gives me six months to adjust to the fact that my BABY is going to be double-digits". But it seems to me that lately my Tweenie (I can just see his jaw drop open in horror at that) has been hitting the accelerator on "growing up", and dragging his 6-1/2 year old brother along for the joyride.  

My first jolt came around Thanksgiving, when Derek suddenly decided--without consulting me or seeking my approval, I might add--to start calling me "Mom" rather than "Mommy". For a while, I winced every time he said it; it just sounded wrong after 9-1/2 years. (also, somehow, "Mom" made me feel older than "Mommy", which did not sit well--he can age if he must, but I'll take a pass, thanks!) Of course, Riley immediately latched onto the habit as well, making me a permanent "Mom" overnight.

Then Derek told a story around Christmastime about one of his best friends, whose mother had brought birthday treats into their classroom. Juice and cookies instead of Social Studies, sounds awesome, right? But she ruined it by--are you ready for the heinous Parental Crime--HUGGING her son in front of his teacher and classmates! Derek made me solemnly vow right then and there, never to do such a thing to him. Not even if cupcakes were at stake. (In "Derek Speak", that's really, really serious.)  So yesterday I had gone to the school early for a meeting, and happened to pass Riley on my way out.  He was waiting in line with other 1st and 2nd graders to go inside, and when I tried to give him a Goodbye/Have a Nice Day Hug, he slithered away from me with a stern, "Not in Public, Mom!"  (Sigh. Would a firm handshake be acceptable? A pleasant wave from across the parking lot?)

Finally, this morning Derek came down to breakfast and announced, "I want to get rid of my stuffed animals." Riley looked scandalized and gasped, "Why would you do that?" Derek breezily answered, "Well, you know I'm too old for them, now." Mind you, just last week, he and Riley were inventing elaborate stories and acting them out with their Stuffed Animal Brigade, including having names, ages, and special voices for each and every character.  (He'd also be mortified for the world to know that.  Oh well.)  Naturally, Riley instantly decided that he, too, would thin out his herd (although he did hold onto some--pshew!)

I'm almost afraid of what they'll decide to adopt, or do away with, or change tomorrow. So far the Growing Pains have been pretty tame and manageable...and hopefully we have a few more years before one of them mentions girls, or tattoos, or piercing and brings on the Mom Hysteria that will ensue...

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