Tag Archives: bar-mitzvah

How Having a Wedgie Made Me Realize My Son is Becoming a Man

Me in my Express Jeans. Size 2.

It was a regular day.

I spent a few hours at school, met a former student, ran to the post-office, stopped at the grocery store to pick up that one necessary yet missing ingredient for dinner — just like any other day.

On the way home, while sitting in my car, I noticed my jeans were a little… uncomfortable.

You know, they were a little… tight.

By the time I rolled into my driveway, I definitely had a… wedgie.

I couldn’t wait to get out of those pants.

As I yanked the faded denim over my knees, I saw them: little button tabs on the inside of the waistband.

I sucked in my breath.

Old Navy Boys Jeans, Size 16.

Because I realized I hadn’t been wearing my pants.

They were my 12-year-old son’s jeans from Old Navy.

I am horrified amazed that my son and I are the same size.

And yet, I shouldn’t be surprised.

We’re wearing the same shoes.

Or rather, I can wear his shoes.

When I hear the mail truck coming, I often slip into his sneakers: the ones he so conveniently leaves by the door.

Of course, I know what this means.

From here on out, he will continue to grow.

And soon he will pass me.

Eventually, I will look up at my child.

And that will be a whole new thing.

Although in some ways, I have always looked up to him.

Watching my son become a man is about so much more than watching him slip into and out of his different sizes of clothes.

Obviously.

He’s always known exactly who he is.

I’ve been the one who has had to adjust my expectations about who I thought he might be.

Just like I probably needed to let out a few tabs on his jeans the other day, now I have to adjust to the idea that my son is becoming a man.

With his own ideas.

And his own interests.

And his own methods.

Which don’t always align with mine.

Emotionally, Tech has always been an old soul.

But now the changes are physical.

I realize our state of equilibrium is temporary.

Like receiving an alert from my iPhone, it is a gentle reminder, that while I am still in him…

…he is out-growing me.

Do boys outgrow their mommas?

(NOTE: Clearly, we have to start being more careful with the laundry. Theoretically, Tech could make the same mistake and end up wearing my jeans. And that would be bad.)

I’m thinking this look would not go over well in the boys’ locker room.

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Channeling Atticus Finch

Nearly 13 years ago, I was very pregnant. And as my 9th grade English class watched a scene from the film To Kill A Mockingbird, I got all weepy. It was a scene in which Atticus, the perfect father, sits on his front porch swing, instructing his daughter, Scout, about something or other, and it occurred to me in that moment – in a very real way – that soon I would be a parent, instructing my own child about life, its soft places and its hard edges.

I started to sob.

How would I ever do it?

Atticus had all the answers.

He had the right words.

Even after the movie ended and somebody had turned the lights on, I kept sniffling while conspicuously chomping on potato chips.

Teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I had a soft spot for one of my freshmen boys and, as my shoulders heaved and I wept hysterically, he pondered aloud:

“I wonder what she needs more: tissues or a salt lick?”

I choked on my snot.

Everyone laughed.

Class ended, and I went to the bathroom to pee pull myself together.

As a parent, I’ve always channeled Atticus. A defender of justice, he fought for it even if he knew he would be beaten in the end.

Atticus argued for big principles like equality and duty, but he never lost sight of the fact that, in the end, it’s human beings and their choices that make equality stand or fall.

And he tried to instill the values in which he believed in his children.

These days, I watch my son and his friends walk to school, and I swear they come home taller each afternoon.

I have done the best I can do with Tech, who just six months ago asked me to stop calling him Monkey.

Lord, give me strength because his questions are becoming harder.

And I am no Atticus Finch.

As I look outside my window this morning, I’d like everything to stay. The trees are undulating softly, and the light reflecting off the leaves is making me squint. Right now, everything is green with possibility. The sun fills me with hope and reminds me of the goodness to come.

Is there a particular scene from a movie that stays with you? That you associate with a time in your life? That has helped you to parent?

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A Chat with my 7th Grade Android

Recently, Tech Support has become much more private. About everything. Where my 12-year old son used to willingly spill all the beans at once, now he doles them out in microscopic handfuls. And even then, I get a little morsel only after extensive prodding and threats of punishment. Picture a skinny 7th grader with freckles and a pre-recorded robot voice. Because basically, that’s what I’ve got goin’ on these days.

This is how most our after-school conversations sound:

Me: How was school? Tell me something cool that happened today.

TS: I do not like to talk about my academic life.

Me: Well, your father and I think it is important that we know what you do during the day.

TS: Cheese.

Me: Tech Support, it’s not like I’m asking you to reveal our nation’s secrets. If you don’t tell me something about your day, there will be a consequence.

a pixelart from an iPod touch

Image via Wikipedia

TS: Will this consequence involve my iPod Touch?

Me: It might.

TS: I had a very good day.

Me: That’s a little vague. Can you be more specific?

TS: I do not like to talk about my personal life.

Me: Can you tell me who sat with you during lunch?

TS: I do not remember.

Me: How is that possible?

TS: *shrugs*

Me: Okay, what about that girl from last year. Do you still see her?

TS: I do not like to talk about my social life.

Me: If you don’t give me something, there will be a consequence.

TS: Will this consequence involve my iPod Touch?

Me: It might.

TS: She still likes me. I know because she still emails me once in a while and talks to me in the hall. But she doesn’t like like me.

Me: How are you doing in your classes?

TS: I don’t like to talk about my grades.

Me: Are you kidding?

TS: If I don’t answer you, will I lose my iPod Touch?

Me: You are heading in that direction.

TS: Then I am doing very well. Very well, indeed. I have A pluses in all my classes. I have found a way to stop the United States dependency on foreign oil. I did this in science with my lab partner. I have written many long essays in English. My gym teacher loves me.

Me: Are you messing with me?

TS: Indeed.

Me: Dude, you are exhausting.

TS: *smiling* Will that be all?

Me: May I ask one more question?

TS: If I do not answer, will I lose my iPod Touch?

Me: That joke is wearing thin.

TS: Fine. *glaring* What?

Me: How is the Bar-Mitzvah preparation going?

TS: Very well. When I get up to read from the Torah, I plan to bust out into a rap. Or sing like Operaman. It will be excellent. Everyone will love it. They will think I am awesome and tell me I should be a rock-star when I grow up.

Me: If you do that . . .

TS: . . . will it involve my iPod Touch?

Me: No. *not smiling* It will involve this . . .

And then I jump on him. I tackle my snarky little son who suddenly knows all the answers to everything. He is longer than I remember. And stronger. We are laughing as our fingers intertwine.

Tech Support and I notice at the same moment that our hands are the same size.

TS: That’s weird. When did that happen?

I think about his question. I remember his tiny fingers wrapped over the edge of his blanket, how he used to clumsily grab magic markers and paintbrushes. I think about the way he used to build with LEGOs and K’Nex and how he still loves to make magnetic creations with those super tiny Bucky Balls. I consider how gracefully he holds his sabre before each bout.

My son interrupts my thoughts.

TS: I think I know when it happened.

I tilt my head, lean in, and give all my attention to him.

TS: Probably while I was on my iPod Touch.

*weep*

What physical and/or emotional changes do you remember people commenting on as you grew up? Or what did/do you notice changing about your child/ren? How did your parents punish you? Do you ever take away your kid’s iPod Touch?

Can you imagine if my kid does a Hebrew version of this on his Bar Mitzvah? Oy!