Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Raising Jackson: On Saying Good Riddance (Oops, I mean Goodbye) to 13

In my experience as a mom, thirteen is a tough age. I get that it's not so easy for the thirteen year old either.

But, tomorrow (Nov. 13), my sweet, fun, engaging, big-hearted, stubborn-as-all-hell middle chid, JACK will be 14. FOURTEEN! YAY! That means we can all kiss that blasted 13 goodbye.  Whew!

Hey... we made it Jack!  We did it.

Didn't we?


I had parent-teacher conferences last week. And I was worried, because between you, me and the fence post (oh, and everyone else in the world who will read this), Jack isn't much for silly things like, say, homework. Or studying. Or... homework.

But one of his teachers said to me, "Jack is going to be just fine. In fact, he'll be more than fine. Because there isn't a company or organization in the world who wouldn't want Jack to be a part of it." And ya know what? She's right. When Jack steps through the door, there are a few things you can count on...

1. You'll know his mood within seconds. No guessing how he feels. No wondering whether he's feeling good or bad about something. Jack wears his heart on his sleeve.

2. Jack cares. Good or bad, right or wrong. Jack has an opinion, and he is not afraid to share it.

3. Jack wants to help. Really, truly, he wants to be a big part of whatever it is you need. And if someone is struggling - upset, sad, angry, confused... Jack knows how to make things okay. He just does.

It's ironic I think, that Jack has always been the one who can calm his little sister down whether she's having a massive, floor-kicking tantrum or a full-on crying jag. The ironic part? Half the time, he's the cause of it.

But, I digress. That's Jack. He's like the perfect fiction writer - putting his protagonist up in a tree, then throwing rocks at him, and then, well, helping him down.

I don't know if we're out of the woods yet, as far as Jack's teen angst is concerned. But I'm hopeful that as he matures, he'll continue learning to control his temper, find value in hard work and most of all, know how much I love him.

He'll be heading to high school next year, and I'm looking forward to watching him grow into an amazing young man, with passion, talent and, most of all, heart.

Here's to my son. Willful, loving Jack. And in honor of his BIRTHDAY, a few of my favorite Jack-isms from the past 14 years:

"Bitch, Mama. It's Son of a Bitch" (age 2, as he rounded the corner where I was on the phone. Upon hearing his little feet, I stopped in mid-sentence, i.e. "Son of a...").

"Mama? Did you see her lips?!" (age 3, as he passed an "older" - 4-year old girl on the playground at preschool who was wearing a pink, leather Barbie jacket and applying Bonnie Bell lip smackers)

"Hi Mister Bear!" (age 4, as he walked along the oceanfront with his grandparents and passed a very large, very hairy man).

"Well, why don't you just leave that husband of yours at home?" (age 5, to one of my dear - and attractive - friends, Kris, who had just told little Jack that she would meet us all for dinner as soon as her husband, Joe, got home).

Good stuff.

Last night, Jack and I spent a bit of time at the orthopedic surgeon's office at Mercy Hospital. Turns out, he broke his ring finger. Again. This time, on the right hand. (This has been a TOUGH year for jack... broken knee cap, torn MCL, two broken fingers. Enough already!)

As we were leaving the building, we walked by a woman and her daughter. The little girl's arm was in a cast and a sling. She was about 8 (Jack's sister's age).  Jack slowed down, turned and smiled at the two of them. "Did you break a bone?" he asked the little girl. She nodded politely, shyly. "Look! I broke one too! You must be brave like me. How did you do it?" Turns out she plays soccer, too. "I bet you're the fastest on your team, huh?" he continued chatting with her until we reached the parking garage. Her mom was blown away by his kindness. I was, too. But I wasn't surprised in the least.  That's my Jack.

Happy Birthday Kiddo... May 14 be your best year yet!

I love you to the moon and back.