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.”

Serious, Seriously?

On Monday, my son’s Spanish teacher emailed me to let me know that he was upset. He had forgotten about a quiz scheduled for that day, even though it was posted on her website and announced in class.

On Tuesday, he went to Freshman Registration Night at the high school he plans to attend next year. His schedule is going to be really tough. So while his teacher had recommended Spanish III, I suggested taking Spanish II, so he isn’t slammed from all sides.

Nope. “I should take Spanish III.”

“I don’t know,” I shook my head, imagining another four years of nagging and checking up on him.

“Mom, it’s time I took school seriously.”

Well, you can’t argue with that… until an hour later when I received a late-night, bail-out email from his Social Studies teacher, saying that he “probably knows this, and has yet to start… but please remind him to…”

“Aw man, I forgot!”

He didn’t even remember that it was his turn to bring snack today. How can you be a serious student when you can’t even remember snack?!

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.

An Empty Library

My son is looking at high schools. He has visited two of five schools so far, and it strikes me with each visit that what excites him most makes me wary.

After the first: “I could go to Chipotle every single day for lunch!”

And…“everyone carries their phones around everywhere, even into class!”

After the second: “I only saw one device that wasn’t an Apple product!”

And… “no one uses their lockers because there are no textbooks. They’re totally digital!”

And then when I walked into the old library, there wasn’t a single book. The tour guide said, ”When we realized that only three books were checked out one entire year, we turned the library into a resource center.”

Schools with no books. Makes me sad.

Considering Religion at 13

My son will be applying to high schools next year, and he is getting the big sales pitch from some friends, who are freshmen at a Catholic school near our house. We drove by to check out the campus, and he was thrilled.

“This is even nicer than I thought,” he said with a good view of the football stadium.

You can also see a large stained glass window as soon as you pull into the main driveway.

“…But I’m thinking the religious classes are wasted on me.”

I was not going to let that stand. “You realize that religion is the basis for understanding most good literature, history, war, politics, art, architecture? If you don’t study religion, you’re going to miss out on a whole lot.”

“Well then,” he smiled, “another reason this is the school for me!”

I am glad he is still so malleable at 13. It makes my job much easier.