The last year of childhood

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So my son will be 12 next week. A year left of childhood and already there are ever growing signs of the adolescent he will become, while here and there I even catch glimpses of the man he will grow up to be one day.

But still, I also see the endearing boy within, the little child still playing with his cars (sound effects included) even as his desire to be able to drive a real one lives side by side with his urgent ‘need’ for skinny black jeans.

My boy has his first crush on the lovely Sarah, the brainy red head tomboy (what great taste!) in his class. He was heartbroken to learn yesterday she won’t make it to his birthday party this year. When I drop him at school, if she is nearby he still (bless him) kisses me goodbye but then drops his unbroken voice as deep as it will go to say ‘cool ma, see ya later’ before swaggering off, peeking at her out of the corner of his eye to see if she’s watching him.

My son is such a tender hearted and loving boy, the thought of anyone breaking his heart one day makes me feel inordinant amounts of impotent rage, knowing I can do nothing to help him through those times which surely lie ahead.

Despite his rocky start as a premmie, he has lived and survived and so have I and we have become so incredibly close through the wonder years of childhood. And now we stand at the threshold of another experience, a new bend in the journey, and, as I feel him moving away from me, albeit slowly, into the world of manhood, I feel again some of that terror of those first scary days.

I won’t be there when he has to make hard choices. When he has too much to drink and has to decide whether or not to drive. When he is offered drugs. When he is falling in love with someone who may hurt him in unimaginable ways.

How can I do this? How do you let go – even though you know it’s the right, the only thing to do.

Today, we spent the day together and he got to choose what we did, where we went, what music we played in the car. He loves spending time with me. I know that increasingly he will choose other company over mine – it’s the way it should be. But for now I cherish each time that he looks up as I come into the room and his face lights up and he flings his arms around me and tells me he loves me SO much.

I only hope we can make it through this time and come out the other end good friends.

Do we say goodbye to our children’s childhoods too easily?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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