As I waved a good looking, trendy young man off to school today, I wondered what had happened to my little boy? I guess he grew up. My little boy is 12 today. On the one hand, the time has flown, and on the other hand, I can hardly remember life without him (or his little brother and sister).
At his best, my boy is about the best son you could wish for – thoughtful, clever, funny and good company. At his worst, he’s pretty much the opposite – sulky, awkward, demotivated and mean. But that’s 12 year olds for you! He’s adjusting to life and learning to be an adult. He has a long way to go yet, as all 12 year olds do, and sometimes he has to test the boundaries.
At the moment he lacks motivation for school work, although he’s never been particularly keen, to be honest. He should have been taking his Grade 2 violin today, but he didn’t put the work in, so he will have to do it in autumn instead. He’s always loved playing the violin, but the appeal of slumping in front of the television to watch River Monsters or The Simpsons is so much greater. He likes grown up programmes too – he enjoys watching the news (and asking lots of questions and giving us his opinions on matters he surely can’t understand) and he loves The Apprentice. Again, he chats all the way through and, if I’m honest, slightly spoils my enjoyment of it!
His hobbies are somewhat geeky. And I like that. He is a keen Scout, which is his main form of exercise and fresh air once the rugby season is over. They do lots of hikes and camps – he’s off on camp tomorrow in fact. He is a keen, and very good, chess player, who can now beat all the men in the family (all of the men play, but none of the women!). He’s recently taken to making and painting Airfix models. For someone with such a slapdash approach to most things in life, he does this very carefully. Well, the models are carefully painted, but the paint on his clothes and elsewhere suggests his attention isn’t quite as focused as it should be.
He is at his absolute best when he’s on his own in the company of adults. When there’s just me and him (which is extremely rare) he takes on a different persona. He grows up and behaves more like my equal. He teases me, but also tries to look after me. He loves the company of his Grandma and Grandpa and Aunties and Uncles. With them, he is funny and entertaining. He surprises me with his intelligence and knowledge, which are usually hidden below several layers of sulks and grunting.
After nearly a year at secondary school, he’s grown away from his brother and sister a bit. He wants to be independent, not to be hanging around with babyish kids and doing babyish stuff (FYI they’re not babyish kids and we don’t do babyish stuff).
He’s always picked on his sister, which I hate and which I seem totally unable to do anything about it. This has made her wary of him, so even when he’s being nice she doesn’t believe him. Then he gets upset because she’s being horrible to him!
What makes me sadder is that he’s started picking on his brother too. His brother who has always been there for him, always been his best friend. They’ve always had such a close bond and I would hate to see that broken. If he picks on his brother now, will his brother still be there for him in a few months or a few years when he remembers he’s really his best friend?