OK, son. You’re in that weird stage right now where you’re technically not a teenager yet, but you’re not a little kid anymore, either. I know it’s super strange. Your body is changing, your voice is sounding different, and your brain is struggling to keep up.
The next few years are going to be different for both you and for me. I’ve been thinking about some things you should know, and while this list is definitely not exhaustive, I figure it’s a good start.
1. Deodorant and foot washing are not optional. Ever.
They’re just not. As your body changes (you’ll learn this in sex-ed), your hormones go berserk, and you. will. stink. You already do. (No offense.) It’s not your fault, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but Lord have mercy, it is something you can control. The deodorant is in the top bathroom drawer (I’m assuming you forgot?) and foot washing involves soap. With a washcloth. And a vigorous scrubbing motion. No, you cannot count standing in the soap suds on the shower floor. Not sufficient. Scrub those stink cells off your feet. Then repeat.
2. You won’t always (or maybe ever) be the best athlete on your team, but you are overqualified to work your butt off.
If I ever see you being the last one to get to the line, or if you think it’s acceptable to saunter off the field, you will hear my screech from the stands and feel my wrath at home. Your coaches should all say the same thing – “Man, is that kid a hard worker.” I’ll be more proud to hear that than to hear you’re the top hitter. Seriously. Work ethic matters more than your stats.
3. Don’t ever get too cool to read good books.
I know that somewhere in middle school, many guys stop liking to read. (And as a former teacher, I know it’s because we educators start assigning crap-tastic books and forcing you to read what you hate. But I digress.) You love to read right now, and the books on your shelves have taught you so many things you can’t learn in school. Reading opens doors to worlds you need to see. A man who doesn’t read is often a man whose mind is closed. Don’t be that man.
4. Your world is going to open up in the next few years.
I want you to venture into it and explore what it has to offer, but I want you to do it in the confines of what we’ve taught you matters. I want to live in the limits of the values we hold. This means you won’t do everything that others do. You won’t go everywhere they go, and you won’t say/think/drink/experiment with everything they do. There is no shame in standing on your own. There is no shame is saying that something’s not for you. There is great shame in realising you’ve violated your own standards. Remember who you are.
5. Nothing is off limits when it comes to approaching me.
If you have questions about something, you can ask me. It might embarrass us both or make me cringe, but who better than someone who loves you to see your face turn red? If you’ve done something wrong, I am still here. My love is not dependent on your choices, and though I’ll be praying you make the right ones, if you don’t, you can still come to me. Our home is your home base, and it is your safe place.
6. Keep asking me to scratch your back at night.
I know I get annoyed when you ask for 5 more minutes every single night, and I know I always say I’m ready to go to bed, too, but that time with you is my favourite. It’s just us, and when you’re facing the wall, you often open up and tell me things that I wouldn’t otherwise know. It lets me know you need me, and there’s nothing a mum needs more.
7. Your outfit doesn’t all have to be the same colour.
Seriously. If you’re wearing a red shirt, your shorts don’t have to be red, too. Variety is the spice of life, bud. Look at the colour wheel and learn about complementary colours. Your future wife will be so impressed if you can pick out your own clothes. Trust me on this one.
8. I will never stop giving you chores.
You’ve been putting your laundry away for years, and hauling out the trash and cutting the grass aren’t going away either. As you get older, your responsibilities will only increase. It’s preparing you for life outside our house. Get used to it.
9. No, you still can’t have a phone.
I know. I’m mean and everyone else already has one. Too bad. God didn’t tell me to make you happy, and what everyone else has is not my concern. Unlimited technology does nothing to give you the character you need, and it opens up a world you are SO not ready to enter. (I’m 36 and not ready for it either.) My calling as a mother is to help you discover your calling, and scrolling through selfies on Instagram isn’t it. Friends in real life are more valuable than likes on social media. And no, I don’t know when you can have one. Maybe when you actually start putting your laundry IN the basket instead of on your floor. Baby steps, son. Baby steps.
10. I love you like nobody’s business, but understand here and now that you will not be a 30 year old man living in my basement playing video games.
You are expected to be educated for a job or trained in a skill that can provide you with housing and food. I will do everything in my power to aid you to this end, but at some point you will leave the nest. Even if it’s my foot kicking your backside out. There is nothing healthy about an adult refusing to be an adult, and in this house you will not be enabled to stay a child. Nope. Forget about it. I will not do for a man what he can do for himself. I love you, but I will also love coming to your house to visit.
So there you go, babe. Just some nuggets of wisdom for your preteen self. We’re headed into uncharted waters for our family, but we’re in it together. Unless you forget your deodorant. Then it’s every man for himself.
Article supplied with thanks to Jennie Scott. Jennie is married with two children who shares lessons from her own unexpected journeys and encouragement you might need for yours.