Monday, September 15, 2008

Dear Stryker

Your mother apologizes for this morning's crabby bad start. This 6 am wake-up call is new for her, too. She's not yet accustomed to this new kind of morning -- still dark, nobody else awake, just the two of you whispering through a sleeping house.

Every morning at 6:10 am, she puts on her running gear. Walking downstairs, she can hear you eating breakfast, alone. The spoon and bowl click. You slurp a little, sweetie. The sounds amplify in the dim house, just like that crisp click click of dog toenails.

She sees that solo morning breakfast as a metaphor for your current journey -- off into the great morass of junior high, attending a school where you have ZERO friends to see you through. Not only are you alone there, you haven't caught many other breaks, what with living across town and being the first one on the bus and last one off to log in a 50 minute ride. Then there's algebra! And all the new parental focus on homework, the crackdown on screen time, the near elimination of games.

You are all full of want: laptop, new speakers, Wi, X Box, private television and a media room to put said desired equipment. You know that none of those things are in your immediate future, but still, you hope. To that end, you have requested gainful employment -- a job. But when you're 12, not only are jobs hard to come by, but largely illegal.

You have a permanent 5 o'clock shadow on your upper lip.

You're not quite at home, anywhere. Not in your imperfect bedroom, with all its pedestrian technological bent; not in the school of 700 where you recognize only 3 kids by name; not on the bus for an hour--no friends there (yet) either. And certainly not in your body and mind, both in transition between being a kid and being a teen. That media room you need tomorrow? Well, that's probably something to aim for in your first house, post-college (um. . medical school?).

Comparing your situation--stark, in your view--to your sister's recent success and buoyant mood doesn't help, she knows. She wishes you didn't have to listen to inappropriate Rent songs about sex, either. Did you notice this? When someone asks the Matron how her "little star is doing" she says, "Why Stryker's doing great" and then goes into explanation. She skips the other one.

She's SO proud of you for not complaining. Sure, you describe your current situation and even unhappiness, but do so like an adult, facing the facts. She's proud of your dedication to homework and the ease with which you took on new challenges.

It really doesn't matter that you couldn't find the Stephen King book today. The Stand was one of your mother's favorite books as a Young Miss, and she's tickled pink you're taking it on at twelve. She's sorry she was angry that you weren't 100% prepared--like you have been every day so far.

So she scolded you and then rolled her eyes and nearly imploded when she realized you had forgotten your lunch too! Now, she knew she had packed it and left it on the counter, but suddenly, everything was all your fault.

Later, when she found The Stand on the table by the parental bed, she remembered why it was there. Blue and lonely on Saturday night, you'd asked to sleep with your parents. Just once, again.

Sometimes she forgets, sweetie, that even though you're nearly as tall as she is, in the scheme of things--you're still not just her baby, but a baby. And 12 was raw and vulnerable when she stood in those shoes. The world seemed endless and utterly unknowable.

So she's sorry she was crabby. In her heart, you're new again. She's kissing each perfect finger, smelling those sweat soapy toes. Loving you just like she did back then, when every last thing you did was adorable, perfect--even when you aren't (and she isn't) now. That's how she's going to approach 12.

24 comments:

Ree said...

The Stand. Favorite book ever.

Stryker - if you want someone to email about the Stand, let me know!

smalltownmom said...

We've survived 5 months of age 12, but didn't have major school issues to deal with. Hang in there, Stryker.

Heather of the EO said...

As humorous as it was, that post was really touching! It made me want to know this twelve year old. What a great kid. And what a great mom, to look at him this way, noticing all his struggles yet staying realistic and loving every part of him. Kudos :)

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Can I tell you a secret? Stryker is my favorite.

Lisa Milton said...

What a tender post.

(And The Stand? Smart boy.)

Josey said...

Maybe I'm hormonal but this post made me weep. I always knew he was the strongest of the three.

witchypoo said...

Just explain. It's not you. It's me without my morning coffee.
REally.

Heather said...

Aww. I have trouble remembering that my 6-year-old is still really JUST SIX. I can't wrap my mind around having a 12-year-old.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'll have to say that 12 was not a banner year for me either. Compassion and empathy from Mom are good.

Becky said...

This is great! I need to save it and read it again in 5 years and then 5 years after that, when my children are 12, if I have any sanity left.

thefirecat said...

Twelve sucks. Hang in there, dude. If it's any consolation AT ALL, both twelve and algebra are temporary....and neither of them will matter much by the time you get that media room set up ten years from now.

Promise.

Kimberly said...

The Stand is one of my most favorite books ever. Love it!

Wonderful post.

I left you a little love over at my blog - come see.

hippyhappyhay said...

Beautiful post Matron.
The other day I was at Hells Pizza, oredering a vegan pizza and on the menu there was a 'Minion' pizza. I thought of Stryker instantly, and smiled quietly.

Jocelyn said...

Oh crap. What a time of life, no matter the circumstances.

I'm so glad he has books for companionship. I shall always be grateful to them for getting me through, I know.

Having such a mother won't hurt, either.

Irene said...

I remember 12 as being especially awkward and painful, a loss of innocence happens then, some of it due to irrational behavior from adults who suddenly start to treat you differently, with scorn and disdain. It seems they forget that you're just a child and don't just suddenly know all the things an adult knows. It makes you have to grow up too fast.

Lynda said...

I'm not hormonal today and you got to me, too. Thanks.

She She said...

Just beautiful.
12 is hard. I remember it well.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You are so sensitive to him--he's going to be OK between such great parenting and his genius mind. A rising star indeed.

Sandie said...

That post makes me want to cry. I can still remember those feelings of not fitting in, and wanting to so badly.

What a wonderful post. Thank you.

Amy the Mom said...

My twins started junior high this year. It is a mighty struggle. I've opted to drive them, because they also faced a 45 minute bus ride-ridiculous considering the school is all of 5 minutes from our house.

Katie said...

This is bringing back way too many angsty memories.....poor Stryker!

PicaboMama said...

I believe I have said it before, but I wish my own mother had been as sensitive as you. My heart breaks for Stryker. 12 was the lowest point of my childhood.

Jennifer said...

Thank you. I needed the reminder that my 7-year-old is JUST SEVEN today. It's so hard not to take it personally sometimes, isn't it?

You and Stryker should consider reading The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn. He seems like just the sort of kid it was meant for.

Age 12 is just hard. Period.

--Jennifer

Minnesota Matron said...

Thank you! The Matron is buoyed and heartened by these words!!!