It’s Puberty, Mom

On Saturday night, my fourteen year old son was tugging gently at his hair when I peeked into his room to say goodnight, something he has done since infancy to soothe himself. It’s a sign that he is deep in thought, worried, chewing on something that happened that day or the day before.

I asked what was up.

“I’m socially awkward.”

On Friday, the last of his eighth grade class found out where they got into high school. Although he has known since Thanksgiving, it must have hit him suddenly that change is coming. I received two phone calls and an email from his teachers that day saying he was distracted, and could I please have him finish his assignments over the weekend.

… so the hair tugging on Saturday made sense.

“And no one thinks I’m funny.”

I held back a laugh. He is funny. Maybe just not 8th grade boy funny.

On Monday afternoon, I received a request from him for a free workout app. This from a kid who dreads exercise.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“I’m feeling self-conscious.”

I approved the download, and he did a workout before dinner, bragging about the number of squats and sit-ups he did. Then before bed, “Can you start waking me up early?”

“Really?”

“I want to work out, and I should shower before school. And can I try a fried egg for breakfast? I hear they’re really good for you.”

“I’m proud of you,” I hugged him.

“It’s puberty, mom. It sucks.”

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An 8th Grade Boy Applying to High Schools

When told that one of the schools he is considering does not have a robust college guidance program, he said, “That’s okay. I already know I’m not allowed to go to Yale or Duke.”

Seriously?

During a mock interview with his principal, when asked what challenges him, he said “reading.” The principal tried to get him to explain why. “Are you a slow reader?” “No.” “Is it hard to remember everything?” “No.” “Is it that…” “It’s just that when I open a book, I get bored.”

Sir, can you forget he said that when you write his recommendation?

When he came out of his first high school visit, and I asked if he could see himself there, he grinned, “I could go to Chipotle for lunch every single day!”

Then when he met two Admissions Directors a second time, he talked to one about their amazing French fries and the other about their delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Is it really going to come down to the snacks?

When one Director of Admissions asked 50 kids at Info Night what they wanted most out of high school, he was the only one to raise his hand, “I want it to be fun.”

And when he visited another school, he leaned into me as we approached the entrance as if he needed my support to stand up. “I’m nervous. I’m nervous. I’m nervous. I don’t want to do this.” It broke my heart to leave him. But when I picked him up, he exploded with excitement, “If I was going to build a school, it would be exactly like this.”

“Any questions, young man?”

Nope. Apparently, he’s got it all figured out.