Nobody ever told me

February 22, 2013

in no manual for parenting

About a year ago, my son grew to my height, and he has not shown any sign of slowing down ever since. He’s about half a foot taller than I am now, taller than his father even. It is a very complicated feeling whenever I am startled by having to strain my neck in order to see his face. It also makes it very difficult to hold his gaze and reprimand him when he sort of hovers above my head.

Up until now, I still see him as my baby. Well, secretly anyway. On paper I am all, “You are a teenager now. You have your freedom and independence. You need to learn to take care of yourself.” Honestly though? My heart does a toe touch jump when he lets us tuck him in at night as he lies in the bed that’s barely longer than he is now. He has to sleep diagonally.

They didn’t warn you that this day is coming. Probably because, well, one is supposed to have known better. Babies grow. Everybody gets older every day. Why are parents caught by surprise at all when their children all of a sudden stop being children?

Still, I marveled, “Nobody told me to be prepared for this! I am not ready yet!” when my 14-year-old announced from the bathroom as he brushed his teeth, “Mom! I need to start shaving! Kids at school have been making fun of my mustache.” I ran upstairs and we both stared at the shadow just above his lips in the mirror. Him of pride perhaps? I of shock. Did it sprout overnight? How come I did not notice it until this moment? I was at a loss. “Dad’s coming home tomorrow. He could teach you how.”

Lately he’s been full of surprises. Only that he did not recognize these to be significant watershed moments in his life. One never does, I guess, and leaves the commemoration and the commiseration over them to one’s parents.

“Hey mom, you need to sign me up for driving lessons. Ktahnksbye.”

“I am going to the [school dance] with [girl’s name unintelligible],” he announced casually and went back to reading his Mad magazine, leaving me breathless.

I am at a disadvantage as I did not grow up in this country. Many of these rites of passage taken for granted are completely foreign to me. My knowledge is to the extent of John Hughes movies that I’ve seen. (That, and Porky’s which was, coincidentally, the very first American movie I’ve ever seen on a VHS tape at a friend’s house when the parents were away…) I knew to remind him to find out the color of the dress the girl will be wearing. But that’s about it.

“Geez. You really need to help me out here. I’ve never been to a dance in my life!” I started to panic.

I did not know any men (or boys for that matter) until I was in college.

I did not learn how  to drive until I was over 25.

I have never shaved in my life.

I have never brought up a teenager before.

I have never had to watch somebody grow up so fast. Too fast.

I have never known this subtle, almost imperceptible yet keen once noticed, restlessness inside my gut of pride and fear and joy and sorrow.


Nobody ever told me.

No. They don’t.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Shefali March 22, 2013 at 12:58 am

I totally totally get what you are talking about! I feel like two years just flew by and I want it to stop-right-now 🙂
Shefali´s last blog post…A Letter From Mom and Dad


Absence Alternatives March 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm



Velva March 3, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Get ready, it is going to be quite the ride (smile).

Velva´s last blog post…Sunday Supper: Salisbury Steak with Caramelized Onion Gravy


Absence Alternatives March 5, 2013 at 7:48 am

OK. I feel better knowing that you will be holding my hand. 🙂


Paul Lamb March 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm

And then they leave and you’re lucky if you hear from them. Even if you’ve raised them well and taught them to show you love and a degree of respect. My four are scattered to the four winds now, and I’ve become a footnote in the books of their lives.

Nobody tells you about that part either.
Paul Lamb´s last blog post…fictionally true to life story


Absence Alternatives March 5, 2013 at 8:00 am

As soon as I saw your comment, I called my parents… It IS a cliche, but it’s true: I did not realize how much of an ungrateful jerk I am to my parents until I have kids. I cringe whenever I try to put myself in my parents’ shoe and imagine being treated the way I have been treating them: living 7000+ miles away from them, calling them only begrudgingly and when doing so, often getting impatient with my mother, raising children who cannot communicate with them, etc etc. My heart would have been broken, and my guess is I have broken their hearts so many times. It makes me shudder and sorely embarrassed with myself.


BigLittleWolf March 1, 2013 at 11:38 am

The entire journey is astonishing, dazzling, exhausting, uplifting, and foreign, foreign, foreign.

And somehow, not foreign at all – even when we don’t have a clue.

I must admit, hearing from both my “babes” in faraway college, just in the past few days, I am still astonished at the deep timbre of their voices, and that this little body ever birthed those two hairy, lanky, funny, self-contained creatures.

Go figure.
BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb


Absence Alternatives March 5, 2013 at 7:47 am

I don’t even know how I can handle it when they bring home a significant other…


Merrilymarylee March 1, 2013 at 10:09 am

I know the feeling. My husband still teases me about going to watch our son play basketball in middle school. He raised his arms to make a shot and I shrieked, “He has HAIR UNDER HIS ARMS!!!”

Since your sons are in the age range as my grandsons, I sympathize with you… and my daughters. 🙂


Absence Alternatives March 5, 2013 at 7:46 am

LOL. It probably feels different watching them grow up so fast being a parent and being a grandparent?


Dufmanno February 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Profoundly depressing and maddeningly uncontrollable. The careful risk analysis I’ve been using to raise these people has been blown out of the water by a fourteen and twelve year old that could easily take me out in a boxing match with superior height, reach and skills.

My seven year old has NOT outgrown me yet- so there’s that one spark of hope;)


Absence Alternatives March 5, 2013 at 7:45 am

Hurray for the youngest child! 🙂 {{{{{hugs}}}}}


TheKitchWitch February 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm

God, I feel your pain. Miss D. grew SEVEN inches last year. A few more, and she’s going to pass me by, and she’s 11! It’s horrifying.
TheKitchWitch´s last blog post…Year of the Snake: A Tale of Woe


Absence Alternatives March 5, 2013 at 7:44 am

WOW! You are going to have trouble finding her pants that don’t look like high water pants but also won’t fall straight off!


Life with Kaishon February 24, 2013 at 8:32 am

I know just what you are saying.
Just exactly.
Where the heck does the time go?
Life with Kaishon´s last blog post…The Best Book Club Ever :: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


Absence Alternatives February 25, 2013 at 12:33 am

It’s true. Here I am still thinking about how I proudly did not make any new year resolutions. It’s almost March. Far far away from New Year!


Naptimewriting February 24, 2013 at 1:50 am

Nope. When sent home with those mewling little creatures, I was *promised* that they wouldn’t drive, become sexual beings, grow testosterone-spurred hair…I knew about the taller thing. But the rest is kind of unacceptable. Can’t you pull a, “after all I’ve done for you, the least you could do is look into suspended animation!”
Naptimewriting´s last blog post…February


Absence Alternatives February 25, 2013 at 12:32 am

I love this “the least you could do is look into suspended animation” Indeed!


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