When my son turned nine it was one of those subtle milestone moments. There was no major change, but there was a shift. We were now sharing our life with a tween.
A few days ago he and I took a walk, just the two of us. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, my husband was running an errand with our younger two, and my son wanted to get outside too.
So, we walked in to town; enjoying the warmth of the sun, commenting on the beautiful fall colours and chatting. Lots of chatting.
As a mother with no previous experience of nine year old boys, I assume that he is fairly typical of his age.
He has an opinion on everything, he can be rather silly at times, he’s full of chat and commentary. He thinks he’s clever, but often he’s just cheeky.
But, he’s also perceptive, responsible and helpful.
He makes breakfast for himself and his brother and sister. He does his homework without protest and works hard. He even sometimes tidies up without being asked.
He can tell when I’m reaching the end of my tether, before the end is reached, and he will distract his siblings or offer help, or simply give me a hug.
The journey begins
As we walked I realised two things.
Firstly, while he will generally shrug and say nothing when asked about his day at school, when given the opportunity to chat, unprompted, he will talk and talk.
Secondly, I really enjoy talking to him.
He is interesting. He shares my love of books, fantasy novels in particular. He is thoughtful and kind and funny.
I know that the next few years, and the few after that, will not always be easy.
I can see the need for independence asserting itself and I know this will happen before I am ready. That he will want to walk home from school with his friends. That he will want to disappear to his room, away from his brother and sister, and his parents.
I know he is likely to talk less and grunt more as we fly towards the teen years. That talking to mum about books will become less appealing as his peer friendships grow and strengthen.
I know he won’t listen to advice, will roll his eyes at me more often than I’d like, will shrug a lot.
I know this is all part of the journey and I know that these are all necessary steps as he grows up.
All I hope is that by taking the time to really talk to him now, and more importantly to listen, I am building a strong foundation for what is to come.
That by making conversation with him part of our everyday lives he will always, always feel comfortable talking to me.
That when he really needs advice, he will know that he can come to us and that we will listen.
That he will always tell me his stories.
And that this quiet moment of change, from boy to tween, is just the beginning of something really great.