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he's grown a bit since this pic was taken....but I still like it 🙂

He’s 12 going on 17.

 

I’m trying to just be ok with what each day brings.

I don’t know from one day to the next if I have a loving, cuddly child in my home, a surly teen, or a wise young man, spouting wisdom and insights beyond his years.

Last week I pulled up at 3 p.m. in front of his school to find him playing happily with a punch balloon that he’d bought at the corner store at lunchtime. I remember loving those when I was a child – relatively hardy balloons with an elastic band tied to the end that becomes a handle to repeatedly punch the balloon.  p-balloon

 

There was something so satisfyingly meditative in the repetitive action. He was entranced, swore it was the best toy he’d ever had. We arrived home, and he enthusiastically played with that balloon for hours, until a particularly exuberant toss into the air brought it in contact with the stucco ceiling. The balloon popped, along with his joy.

Although I’m grateful I’m raising a child who knows how to express his full range of emotions, at times they overwhelm me as well as him. He tore up the stairs to his room, screaming, “NO!” and threw himself on his bed. His face buried in his pillow, he continued to scream out his disappointment and rage at the short-lived joy of the balloon for several minutes.

And then, it was over.

He emerged from his room with a wry grin on his face, acknowledging to both himself and to me that the reaction over a broken balloon was a bit off the scale.

But was it? I felt like joining him in the expression of grief for simple joys that are oh so fleeting.

Like his childhood.

Just a few days later we were cleaning up the ‘pit’ he hangs out in downstairs with his friends. He was telling me about the girl he’d met at the dance the night before, as we pulled the couch out from the wall to clean up the refuse that had been piling up behind it for a few months, including numerous unwrapped and somewhat soggy looking condoms. I clearly remember the night that he and his friends blew up a few condoms they’d purchased from a washroom vending machine, drew faces on them, and tossed them around the ‘pit’ on a Friday night sleepover.

But how long is going to be before he’s using them for their intended purpose?

Once every six weeks or so, the local community centre puts on a dance for this age group. It’s actually a sort of a mating ritual for several hundred hormonal, pre-pubescent, pre-teens, but given that our culture has few rituals for this transitional stage of life, it serves a purpose. At least there are a few responsible adults on site to ensure that there is no alcohol use, and that the boys hands don’t linger on the girls bottoms during the slow dances. Apparently ( I am NOT allowed onsite by my pre-teen, but told more details of the dance than I really want to hear) the patrolling adults have to regularly pry some of these exploratory couples apart. When I picked up my son from the first of these dances that he attended, and asked him how it was, he grinned at me and said, “Well, let me put it this way….I went in chewing Juicy Fruit, and I came out chewing Excel.”

Oh MY God.

So, day after the dance, he’s MSN’ing with his friends who have convinced him that one of the girls he was dancing with really, REALLY likes him. He decided to be brave (ha), and ask her out. Via MSN. She turns him down. Apparently she doesn’t like him, in THAT way. He storms from the room, slams his fist into a wall on the way up to his room, where he throws himself onto his bed and yells into the pillow. Sigh. I scoured the dollar stores the next afternoon, and bought out the supply of punch balloons I found. I blew up a few of them, and had them lying about his room when he came home from school. Even put a few grains of rice into one of them, to create the sound that reminded me of my own fleeting childhood joy. …and revelled in the sound of my boychild’s joy as he discovered them in his room. And re-discovered his childhood again.

For a few more moments.

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