Last week I gave you a glimpse of the girls in this moment. Today I wanted to capture the boy. But when I walked into his room, I struggled with the image. What do I photograph in a room that's a collection of little bits of things strewn about? Then I spied his night stand. It seemed to be the perfect glimpse of what preteen boys are made of, or at least what my preteen boy is made of.
He's a collection of parts that he's trying to form into a whole right now. This is an awkward stage of life. It's about self discovery and independence but it's also about learning boundaries and responsibility. There's a lot of falling down as you try to walk. But thankfully it's all done with a mom not far behind ready to help you up, (not that you would admit to anyone that you need help with anything). It's a whole lot of ego contrasted with a whole lot of self consciousness. Adults don't usually have fond memories of middle school for a reason. It's a messy in-between stage that's hard to navigate gracefully.
But we're getting through it, one meltdown at a time. And each day gets a little bit easier, (as long as you ignore the challenges you know will arise tomorrow). He's a great kid. And a pretty cool one at that. Let's break down the night stand, shall we.
- Middle School style makes me laugh. Note the cookie monster hat. He's also really into neon yellow. His shoes are so bright that they reflect light. He gets comments everywhere we go. People think he's cool. He thinks he's cool too. Until late at night, when self doubt gets to him. I wish I could will his self doubt away.
- The Vita. He got that for his birthday from family members who thinks he's awesome. See, he had been saving for one for awhile. But then for Mother's Day, he decided to spend all of his savings on a camera for me. So my family all chipped in to buy him the Vita because they were so impressed with his generosity. So was I. And I remind him of it daily.
- Note the purple. Not many boys will claim purple as their favorite color. He does. Proudly. This year he even put a streak of purple in his hair. It was his "rebel without a cause" moment. Sadly, that's against middle school dress code, so he has to grow it out. This made him question authority and why they make up silly rules. I tell him to respect authority and he does because he's a good kid, but really, it is a silly rule, and I don't fault him for calling them out on it.
- Yes, that is a whole box of cookies on his night stand. He was sick all week, so one of his friends brought him a box of cookies. OK, actually, it went more like this. "Hey, I'm sick. I want cookies." So the friend went and got cookies. (I wish I could get chocolate milkshakes delivered on command.) He's not bossy. He was sort of joking. But see he's charming and a good friend. (He did say thank you, by the way.) He's also shy so he doesn't even realize how much people like him. Some days when kids are being kids and he's in fight with his best friends, he claims he has no friends. Now I can say, remember when you got a whole box of cookies from that guy. People don't do that unless they're your friend.
- Finally, socks. Yes, I said socks. I find socks all over this house. What is it with boys and socks? That has absolutely nothing to do with his character. Just a mom note.
He's in a questioning stage of life. Questioning everyone and everything. Mostly himself. But my hope is that if I keep telling him that he's great, maybe he'll survive middle school believing it. Because he is. He is one fantastic kid. Sometimes I'm amazed that he's mine. No matter how hard this middle school thing gets, I'll be right here to tell him that he can do it, even if he's convinced that he can't.