Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What a Difference One Year Makes

John (12) and Molly (13) on the first day of school last year.
One year later, John (13) has grown about 3 feet! I can't see my little boy in his face any more. The pediatrician looked at his feet and predicted he'll be well over 6 feet tall. Molly (14) has changed too, both inside and out. She started her first day of ninth grade in a public high school. She and I were both overwhelmed at her orientation last week. She has gone from a class of less than 30 eighth graders to being one of several hundred ninth graders. The school in HUGE and the student body very diverse. She left for the bus stop yesterday morning at 0640 full of anxiety and came home full of excitement and confidence. Not ten minutes after she came in the door, a new friend was calling on the phone.
Do you like John's hair? Last night I heard a little too much laughing coming from the bathroom and when I opened the door, I saw Molly with an electric hair clipper SHAVING HIS HEAD!! I didn't know whether to scream or cry. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I screamed. For Art.
Molly: "John wanted a mohawk"
Me: "John goes to Catholic school- that is NOT an option!"
Molly: "I don't know if I can fix this"
Me: "Too bad- you started it, YOU FIX IT! And John- if it looks stupid, YOU deal with it tomorrow"
I had to go sit down in the dark. Smoke was coming out of my ears. She finished his whole head with a #1 attachment on the clipper. Art and I were furious that they would think to do something like that without a word to us.
I told my 89 year old Mother about it today. She listened to me rant, she clucked her tongue saying she was surprised they would do such a thing. Then she paused a long time and said "It's only hair". She was right. It was a stupid decision on their part, but the consequences weren't permanent. It's not a tattoo or a piercing. It gave us a chance to talk about making decisions lightly. We talked about how a group mentality can sweep you up. We talked about stepping back and thinking a moment before acting. I told them about a teen that came into our emergency room over the Labor Day weekend, intoxicated, not wearing a seatbelt, ejected from the vehicle. Stupid choices. I wanted to warn them about EVERYTHING! My kids are growing up fast and it scares me. Time to back off. I can see it in their faces that we've talked enough. You're right Mom, it's only hair. Thank God. When did you get so smart Mom? I don't remeber you being that smart when I was a kid.


barefoot gardener said...

You know, I don't envy you. My step-teens are out of the house now, and I couldn't be happier.

Parenting is so tough. If you don't take every opportunity to make your point, then you're a bad parent for not making sure they know what the right choices are. If you push it too hard, they rebel. No matter what you do, at some point they will make a hugely stupid decision, or at least one that you disagree with. All you can do is hope that the choices they make don't damage them perminently.

Parenting is the HARDEST job.

Good luck!

Deb said...

I echo Barefoot Gardener, having parented three step teenagers who miraculously turned out okay. Yes, it's only hair. But in five or so years, when my own are that age, will I remember that? :)

I don't think your daughter's high school is nearly the same one I went to over twenty years ago, although it's the same building. I wish her well, and wish some of my favorite teachers were still there!

Susan Gets Native said...

Isn't it funny how the older we get, the smarter our parents get?
It could have been worse, Lynne. But I would have either exploded or laughed my a** off.

Jayne said...

Wow, what a difference a year makes indeed! They look so very grown up now. Glad all went well... with the clippers and on the first big day! :c)

Ruth said...

Your next 8-10 years will be interesting for sure! Enjoy them! Your kids look happy and it is great that they are close. Your mom is right...don't sweat the little things. I tried not to overreact to things that upset me because most of all, I wanted my girls to feel they could tell me anything if they needed to.

RuthieJ said...

Oh man, Lynne, that must have been a shock for you!
The kids sure changed a lot in a year. Having never had children, I'm not equipped to offer any advice, but I do wish you lots of patience, understanding and luck for the next few years.

Mary said...

Gulp. It's only hair. My own mother would tell me, "Ah, don't sweat the small stuff". And with Gina, it was the "small stuff" that made me boil.

One time I nearly exploded when, during Senior Week at the Beach after high school graduation, she called to tell me she and her friends were cited for possession of alcohol. I felt much better about the whole ordeal when she was forced to do community service - 20 hours of shoveling horsesh-t at the county farm fair.

It's only hair, Linne.

NatureWoman said...

Wow, your kids have really grown! Oh, Molly will enjoy so many new young people. I did the same thing in my senior year - went from a class of 70 to a new school with a class of 700. The choices for friends was awesome!
My Mom keeps getting smarter, too. It's amazing how that happens!

nina said...

A tough job--knowing how much to forbid, and which choices to allow as "learning experiences".
In some ways, making a bad choice (that isn't seriously dangerous)is better than never wanting to step out and try.
Yes, it's only hair--but it's more than hair. It's knowing their own mind. (?)

dguzman said...

I'm with Nina--it's important for kids to know their own minds. Though I'm SOOOOO thankful that Em (1)talked to us BEFORE dying her hair blue, and (2)decided she didn't like it that much and stripped it out with bleach before school started!

Sandy said...

I am sorry Lynne, but I laughed. My daughter, who turned our hair gray, is now dealing with this sort of thing. Her boys are 11 and 9.

They already wear their hair very short, most of the guys around here do, so that wouldn't bother her.

I do wish I had let more of the small things go with my daughter, and isn't it strange that is so clear to me now that I am a grandmother?

Cathy said...

Look at those beautiful shining faces. Honey - you've done something very 'right' here.

Larry said...

Kids showing a little independence and having fun.-With you as a mom, I'm sure they're happy.