“I’m a man now,” said BR. He deliberately said it in a deeper voice than is his usual. He knew what he said wasn’t true.
But it’s not so far off. My son turned 11 this week. Someday soon, he’ll make that same declaration, “I’m a man now.” He won’t have to make his voice deep because it will already be so, and he will be serious. Or he won’t say it all and simply act the part – working, driving, and fending for his own self.
I hear the clock ticking. I also see it. I see it in his actions – his attempts to be more mature, his desire for independence, and his growing interest in his friends.
Don’t take any of this as rushing the process. I’m not in rush for this to happen. I’m also not longing for the baby days – though there is something genuinely sweet about holding a helpless baby whose needs are generally easily fulfilled – I’m mostly content with the stage my boys are in now.
So, I’d like to fly like Superman did in the movie, but rather than go back in time, I would slow it down. I would make the years longer – say 500 days instead of 365. Pretty awesome, right? I know, I know. Just saying it would have some very cool benefits – like being able to spend more time with my children.
OK, I can’t hold back delay, or extend time. No point in even dreaming of it.
Yet, sometimes I think I may be holding him back and not letting him grow up.
He and I read together every night before he goes to bed. While I have read that it is good even for older children to be read to and am a huge advocate of reading with your children, he might not need me anymore, and It might be better for him to be on his own.
Since the end of September, BR and I have been reading Harry Potter. We’re now up to Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. I’m enjoying the books. And I never would have read it if not for reading with BR. Besides reading the books and watching the movies, we discuss them as well. We are our own book club.
But I don’t care about Harry Potter (well, maybe a little). It’s about hanging out with my son. It’s about doing something with my son. We don’t just read at night. We talk. About stuff. Some nights it’s more than other nights. But the opportunity is there.
I don’t want him to go up to his room, turn around and say to me, “I got this, Dad.”
So, I may be babying him.
And, it’s not just the reading. There are other ways I may be holding my son back when it comes to growing up. You know how sometimes you just do things yourself rather than having the child do it. After all, you reason, you can do it faster and better. Yeah, I do that – often. Whether it’s straightening up his room, sweeping the floor, etc., I should stop or at least do this less often. I know it doesn’t help BR. Not in the long run at least. The days will go by, and the years will pass regardless of what I do or don’t do. He’ll need to be independent.
Ultimately, it’s my job to help BR grow up and mature. Some of the growth will happen naturally. However, in ways that I can help or make a positive impact, I need to do so. That’s the job I got 11 years ago when he was born. It’s called parenthood. And parents, like superheroes, can’t slow down time.
But I’m still reading with BR for as long as he’ll allow it. Or at least until we finish the last Harry Potter book.
A version of the Slow, Grow up this first appeared on Me, Myself and Kids.