I woke up today with a chin pimple. Let me be clear. It was not my pimple. And it was not my chin. The Boy, who is 10 years old, walked up to me this morning with his first pimple on his chin. Being the calm and appropriate parent that I am, I immediately screamed, grabbed my phone, and his chin, and sent a picture of it to my friend asking:
Because there’s nothing like scaring the bejeezus out of a kid to normalize human development. Fortunately he’s easily distractible and promising him a brunch outing made him forget all about the shrieking suggestion that there was anything wrong with his face.
I have, for the most part, embraced aging. I have no problems with birthdays, grey hair, looser skin, creaky joints and the need for reading glasses. Helpful Hint: the last one is easily addressed by a prescription of denial. But overall, I have really enjoyed getting older.
But I’ll be damned if the prospect of my kid hitting puberty didn’t throw me for a loop. How could I possibly be old enough to have a kid who will be overrun by hormones soon? I know, millions of parents before me have lived through these moments. But there’s nothing quite like puberty to make a middle-aged woman feel old. He and I are already wearing the same shoe and shirt sizes, which hasn’t bothered me.
But the pimple, and everything pimples represent, bother me. The prospect of teenage angst, of teen friendships when kids can be so cruel, of romantic loves and rejection, of figuring out who you are and taking a stand on that–the idea that my child will be going through that all soon is hard for me to stomach. Because I will feel so helpless witnessing him navigate through life, knowing there will be difficult and painful moments. And hoping I’ve done a decent enough job arming him with coping skills and solid values to make good decisions when it counts. And knowing my time is short now to fortify his character much more. I have a feeling going through puberty a second time won’t be any better than the first time.
Yes, I know the teaching moments don’t ever stop. Yes, I know puberty is a long, slow journey and I have more time before the voice drops. Yes, I know it will be a joy to witness him grow into a fine young man. But realize also I’m prone to hysterics, and watching my first-born child begin his march into adulthood makes me feel old. After all, he’s my baby!
My dear friend offered sage advice–deodorant over antiperspirant at this age, gentle facial washes, etc. But the most useful advice is:
I give up. Everyone to the attic while I go on a bender–the hydration will be good for my complexion.