Thursday, February 28, 2013

You're Hot!

English: YMCA logo (international and USA)
English: YMCA logo (international and USA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My son started going to the gym.  He's never been super interested in sports unless you count marathon reading.  For the last month though he has taken his bike out every day.  For the last two weeks he's taken that bike to the YMCA and worked out every evening after school. On top of that he went through another growth spurt that left him with chiseled lines.  Any faint remnants of baby fat are stripped from his face, leaving a strong chin and dramatic cheekbones.

Every night he returns from the Y and talks me through his improvement. 5 pull ups, then 10, 12, today 20!  "I can do 30 minutes on the treadmill now!"  He has biceps all of the sudden and a two pack.  I am stunned at the quick progress and physical changes and yes, tremendously jealous.  Why doesn't my weight lifting produce such easy results?  Is there such thing as a negative metabolism rate? Anyway, my child, just weeks away from his 16th birthday, is looking more like a man.

The kicker.  He comes home yesterday after getting a haircut.  The thick sweep of hair was gone. In it's place was a near buzz cut with just enough extra on top to style and look a little daring. I couldn't help myself. I saw him and said, "You look hot! You're like a model."  I know that probably wasn't the best mom reaction but damn if it wasn't true.  All of the pieces are starting to fall into place.  The muscles and haircut are forcing the reality down my throat - my boy is growing up. I'm in awe that he is a part of me.  Every day he's looking and acting more like his own person, borderline foreign to me. I've always known that he was of course. Adolescence is just so intense (and not just for the teens). It's like seeing the color red in all it's beauty and then panning out and seeing that it's not a swatch of red but a full bouquet of roses. A gorgeous, cut, bouquet.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sibling (Dis)Order

I'm the oldest child in my sibling quintet.  As a teenager that meant that I was in charge of keeping the peace, babysitting until the parents returned from work and was trained in the art of diaper changing twice. In many ways the uber responsible, family container, role of the oldest child fits me well.  As each of us age however, the assumptions I had about the middle child and youngest child stereotypes and those about the oldest (me), have proved false. Maybe my notions were incorrect to begin with or maybe my siblings are uncharacteristically awesome (the likely answer). All I know is that I frequently feel like I am the younger sib.

Visiting with my sister this weekend, I was reminded of these thoughts and feelings. I am filled with pride, which sometimes tiptoes into jealousy when I am with her. The middle child who was "supposed" to get lost in the shuffle is now a power house of a woman who routinely loses other people in her dust.

Likewise, my baby brother, who by most standard sibling order articles could be the slacker of the family without anyone batting an eyelash, is instead a dynamo.  He is an amazing dad, marathon runner, justice fighting, superhero type dynamo. 

All four of my siblings prove that it is not birth order that defines us.  There is some cosmic cocktail of when and where we are born, to whom, with what resources, and how we respond to all those ingredients that lays claim to us. How we respond is the mystery piece that intrigues me most.  The resilience factor. 

I look at my own kids today and remind myself that the older brother/younger brother images do not consider the cosmic cocktail. The assumptions and predictions can not forecast the inner spark that exists in them or the paths that they will discover.  I keep reminding myself that imposing my own hopes on my kids is futile.  They will be who they are going to be - taller or smarter or more creative than some, shorter, dumber and less than others.  It's really pointless to compare.  It was pointless for me at 16 and it's even more so now, 30 years later.  Encourage, affirm, nurture.  Helping my kids figure out who they are, what they're good at, and how they thrive is what matters. That's what needs to matter for me, for myself, too. Birth order, not so much.
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