We received an invitation for Master Z ‘and his family’ to have afternoon tea with the local member on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate his receiving a ‘Local Sporting Champion’ grant. He’s had a great year with his sport, playing hockey at National level plus State level for both club and school hockey. Initially, I felt thrilled, then I suddenly stopped and thought about who would attend.
‘And his family’…an easy turn of phrase for some – not quite so for us.
I wonder if they know exactly how many people that invitation actually includes. On my side, we have the seven of us: Lisa, me and the five children. Then there are the other two parents, T and J, from the big kids’ other house. So that’s nine people: four women, five children.
I can just imagine the looks and raised eyebrows as we all file through the door. No thanks.
Master Z, though proud of his family, has reached the teenage stage when everything your parents does is embarrassing. He would rather die than have all of us turn up with him. I completely get it. All kids feel this at this stage of their lives. It is normal. But his family is anything but normal. Not just for the same sex parents factor – but for having so many kids in the family too. Master Z has already made it abundantly clear that he is only ever having two children – if he has them at all. I remember telling him we were expecting Miss L, and his face just fell:
‘Not another one.’ Yes another one.
Isn’t it funny how different kids are? Miss D was thrilled at the prospect of another child. She is more quiet and reserved than Master Z, but also fiercely loyal and not in the least self-conscious about her family. I wonder if that will change as she enters the teen years. From my limited perspective on parenting teenagers, it seems like these gorgeous, delightful individuals you raise, turn instantly into paranoid, anxious, moody, self-obsessed individuals for seven or eight years, returning only to their lovely selves again if you are fortunate, only after they have passed through the dreaded ‘teen tunnel’.
If I am completely honest, I’m dreading it.
I know in my heart that’s why I chose to teach primary school rather than high school. I love the youthful exuberance and excitement of childhood. I love the childhood urge to run yourself ragged, play, climb and shout. I love being met at my car on the way into school by children who are excited that I will be spending their day with them.
I love the missing front teeth, the dimples, the mess and the chaos.
I love it all.
The teenage years, however, I view with far more scepticism.
Everything seems to become embarrassing and anxiety ridden. My gorgeous big boy, at the ripe old age of 15, already spends more of his time in his bedroom than he does hanging out with us. Miss D is showing signs of heading in that direction also. When you only have their company for half their lives, this feels like such an unwelcome wrench. Close friendships are beginning to monopolise their time, and dreaded homework usurps the rest. Don’t even get me started on how much sleep Master Z seems to need these days too. It’s truly diabolical.
I had to pre-warn the kids well in advance that we were having a ‘family day’ last Sunday for ‘Father’s Day’ so that they could get all their chores and schoolwork done beforehand. Almost like I needed to ‘make an appointment’ for their free time!
It feels like the beginning of the end: like basically their childhood is over. A new phase is beginning and I’m not all that certain I’m a fan. Thirteen years and all of a sudden, that’s it, the fledgling years are gone.
I know it’s not all bad – I adore the people I can see them maturing into – it’s just that I’m not ready yet to bid farewell to my little people in favour of teenagers.
Ready or not, here they come.