This week E went off to ski camp with his entire 3rd grade class. We were up and out the door by 6:30 and made it to school by the appointed 7:15 time. He admitted to being nervous and excited while we were on the tram together. The conversation was varied. First he asked which pajamas I had packed for him and gave a low “thank God” when I told him I had packed his plain blue set and not his Lego Star Wars or another cartoon set. Then he asked me what the Crusades were all about, what I had packed for his lunch, and if Jesus was a Christian.
He quickly disappeared into the crowd to find his classmates and get checked of the attendance list. I found him surrounded by friends and looking through the stack of old year books laying on the coffee table in the waiting area.
At 7:30 they got the “go” sign to board the bus and settle in with their seat mates. At 7:43 they turned on the movie player on the bus and at 7:45 they pulled out of the parking lot; all the parents were waving and all the children were glued to Mulan.
The school kept a small blog and posted pictures daily about our children’s experience. I was surprised at how relieved I was to see E in a picture. It was like, “Whew! He actually made it there!” It also seems as if he never wore the skiing goggles that I agonized over buying. Typical.
But it looked like he was having fun.
The 4 days passed quickly. More quickly that I thought it would. Suddenly it was Friday and I was waiting with H in the school foyer for the bus to arrive. They arrived slightly late, but his smile was so big he practically glowed. I greeted him with a, “Hey, Pumpkin –” and was quickly rebuffed with, “Don’t call me names.” The hug was quick and perfunctory and he bounded away to say good-bye to his friends. Once we got inside the school, however, he gave me a big hug and I even got a kiss on the cheek.
Then when we got home I got a run down on what I’m allowed to do and NOT allowed to do.
(1) No more nicknames. Not sweetie, honey, pumpkin, or iterations of his name.
(2) I need to buy him plain underwear. No more cartoon characters or superheros.
(3) I will also need to buy him plain pajamas.
(4) No embarrassing him in public – meaning no hair ruffling, hugging, kissing, etc.
It seems that he is on his way to becoming a “Tween.” Dr. Spock tells me that Tweens are often between the ages of 9 and 13 and are experiencing rapid social, physiological and emotional development. They have moved from being ruled by Play to being ruled by Peers.
On the upside, Dr. Spock also tells me that when children hit this stage they are ready for more responsibility and more household chores. Yay!
I took the opportunity while folding laundry today to tell E that I hear him asking to be treated differently; to be treated with more respect and equality and trusted with more responsibilities. I said I would do my best and if he wanted to be treated more adult-like he was going to have to act more adult-like. And then I told him that I knew that, from time to time, he would still need hugs and cuddles and that I would give them to him when he asked. He teared up a little, he was so relieved.
And he gave me long, tight hug.
Thus begins the roller coaster ride.