Do you know how it all started? Armpit smell. Little did I know how parenting would change.
Yes, in late fall, 2010, my son began to smell, at not quite nine years old.
And that was it for another year. Just the smell, which hygiene training easily handled. Life continued. My young boy still acted like a little boy--rough and tumble and well, boyish. Little boyish.
Then earlier this fall, he started taking a shower in the morning sometimes, as well as at night--they're all dirty at night--because that's what adults do, he said. He picked out his own clothes each morning and they always matched. Actual thought went into his ensembles. Not too much thought, as in I-need-the-latest-Nikes kind of sentiment. Just a new consciousness.
A few weeks ago, before Sunday church, he put on a smart looking outfit, saying to me: "This looks nice, doesn't it, Mommy? I want to look handsome for my church friend."
My heart smiled and my mind exploded. Ahhhhhhhh! Help!
The following week we stopped at the drinking fountain at our church. Suddenly, two girls come out of the bathroom, both from my boys' children's church class. My seven year old, kind of shy, looked away instead of at the girls.
But my nine year old?
"Hi Emma. Hi Jennifer. I'll see you in class.".
Spoken like the quarterback of the football team. Smooth as silk. Confident.
And following that encounter, he donned a big, big smile.
I looked at my husband, incredulous. Um, what just happened there?
The following week, he's up till 10:30 PM talking to me--sad that Emma may not be interested in him. He tells me Emma doesn't listen or behave in class and that bothers him. The less pretty one, Jennifer, does listen, and maybe he should stay away from Emma and befriend Jennifer? He knows, instinctively, that Jennifer is the nicer one.
The whole time, I'm crying out to the Lord. It seems I just nursed this boy to sleep last week, Lord. How did we get here so fast, and what do I do?
"Son, the nicer one is always better than the pretty one. And the Lord can make a nice girl beautiful to you. He's that powerful and mighty. But Peter, you can't get married until you have the money to provide food, an apartment, and other things for your wife. So isn't it early to feel this strongly about girls?"
He agreed and seemed remorseful. And conflicted.
I don't think he can help any of this. Hormones are circulating, beyond his control. This is as new and confusing to him as it is to me.
Last night, coming home from AWANA, he glowed with a dreamy smile. (AWANA is at a different church.) I had prayed for all the teachers and students before dropping my crew off.
"I had the best time ever, Mommy. The Lord answered your prayer. I wish I could see Alyssa every day."
This morning, I learn that Alyssa, a long-time friend from this church--a family we know fairly well--said this to my son:
"I told my parents I have a crush on you."
The look in my eye floored him, I guess. My son got tears in his eyes. His lips trembled.
"Does this mean I can't be friends with her?"
"Do you know what a crush means, Peter?" I sensed that he didn't, but he instinctively knew it was complementary.
"It means she likes you and thinks you look nice. Yes, you can be friends with her, but you're never to be alone with her. Adults must always be around."
I resolved to pray about volunteering at AWANA.
I hugged his conflicted, confused self.
He still loves his Momma. He's happy to hold my hand in public. He still sports milk mustaches. He's a tween--half little boy, half teen. It's a brilliant word. His tenth birthday comes in a couple months.
Still shocked, I headed to the computer to look up Christian tween parenting books. I know nothing. We must disciple him well, so he can choose a godly wife and love her sacrificially, gracefully. These years are a training ground. And yet, how to slow him down?
We do not believe in dating, or in letting young people be alone. We prefer our children hang out with friends in our own home--while we observe, evaluate, train, disciple. If the parent-child relationship remains strong and intimate--something homeschooling facilitates--we believe children will be receptive to this arrangement.
I found Faithfully Parenting Tweens, A Family Resource Book, by John R. Bucka, but there was only one review. Any ideas?