February 7, 2010
Oscar is 12 today, a landmark that places him “closer to a teenager than not”. In France the word “teenager” is yet another American import, teens are more aptly called adolescents or ados, and according to Oscar that starts now.
I think it started during this last year and we are in near full swing on this birthday. We still get glimpses into his fading infancy, he still likes company on his bike ride to school and he still likes to be cuddled to sleep… but it’s fading. Whenever he has friends coming over he will remove his peluche (stuffed animal) known as Avi from his bed to ours, along with admonitions to take care of him. The next evening Avi has mysteriously flown back to Oscar’s bed, it’s wonderful! When his adolescent friends aren’t watching, he can be as sweet as a puppy dog’s tail, otherwise he leans towards the snips and the snails.
The windows for parenting are becoming narrower each year, in proportion to the time he spends with us versus his friends, making the few opportunities more and more important to get right! I liken it to building a snowman, in full knowledge that someday he will come to life, “happy birthday” said Frosty and the rest was fable-ous. Our task: steering a field of snow into a round ball, a more or less even sphere. It’s a small challenge; avoiding the dirty snow, exposing each side to the better forces of nature, larger and larger, stopping to appreciate the scene, to warm the hands and balance the expectations. Discovering the carrots and the coals, and stacking the balls in the right way and in the right place.
I’m reaching with this analogy, but it’s snowing everywhere today so it seems apt. All we do as parents is push that ball around until it’s large enough to stand up on it’s own, give him a scarf and a hat and hope for good weather. We continue to straighten him out and push his nose back in from time to time, but this man is greatly made at this tender early adolescence.
The other snowball, that I have learned from our 12 year old, is a lesson of impact. Oscar lobs issues at us, which appear large and frozen and painful, but when they land they are minor flurries of a soft, uncomfortable, cold ball of primarily frozen air. He presents a disappointment as such a huge problem, insurmountable and grave. Like being asked to put on a jacket, or to miss a birthday party, or study harder for a test….and moments before he has convinced me to reverse and accommodate, the moment passes and the air is sunny on the other side of said snowball. What seemed serious on one side was a mere nothing on the other. Every time, I brace for the impact…. that seldom arrives. I have as much to learn as he does. I suppose I am in the adolescence of my parenthood!Another snowball: the boys wanted the girls invited to sleepover too! Oscar lobed repeated snowballs over this one, and once we drew the line, it was passed like a flurry, but here they are at 10:30 bidding the girls adieu....everything got much quieter after that.
We parents hid out in the kitchen, banished perhaps, but with the lights off so we could spy, and quietly dance to the very loud pop music in the other room. We snuck in to snap pictures before being yanked back to our doghouse in the kitchen, by an ever shortening chain. We did get to cook the pizzas….and serve the birthday cake….and watch half a dozen birthday presents get opened, mostly way cooler t-shirts than we would ever buy! And Oscar’s recurring girlfriend gave him cologne! The Ados danced to internet radio, square danced to Cotton Eyed Joe! and did a sort of seated conga line that they all seem to know from birth.
They passed an inordinate amount of time bustling around in two’s and three’s consoling each other about who likes who, and who’s dancing with whom, it seemed at some point in the evening each girl had a turn at crying and each boy had a turn at wondering what it was he had done wrong. But every time, they would all be dancing and laughing again within moments…such drama!
Celebrating 12 years of parenthood we quietly sat for our dinner of (my first) terrine de foie gras, a cold salmon salad and chevre tarts while the ados danced, we drank wine while they spilled “coca”, we covered our ears while they all misunderstood Bad Romance with their cute French accents…we looking like huge dorks if any of the kids had been watching us! All part and parcel of raising an adolescent I suppose.
12 kids last night….
5 sleepoverers….till 2 am!
12 years old, and a sweet smart kid…we are all happy!
In case you havn't gotten a good enough image, here's a video moment from the party: