Jake has gone and gotten himself all in a hurry to grow up.
He’ll be twelve in June, and seems quite perturbed that he’s not growing a mustache yet.
I know this is nothing new for pre-teens, or for kids in general, but it’s a first for us. I remember being a kid wanting nothing more than to be a MAN. I’d make my own rules, I wouldn’t answer to anyone, and I wouldn’t have to take any naps I didn’t want to.
If only I had known how wonderful it is to be 8, blindly relying on your parents to make dinner while you watch cartoons in the living room (Flintstones and Jetsons, if I remember correctly), and to pay all the bills and to worry all the worries. Those were the days. If I had really known what it means to be grown, I wouldn’t have wanted to rush.
Anyway, Jake has gotten it into his head that growing up is the coolest thing ever.
There are signs that he’s onto something: he’s ripening (or at least he smells that way), and Beth swears she’s heard a few cracks in his voice. Frankly, she’s scared to death. I think it’s hilarious.
The other day my car was stuck in the driveway. While I was rocking back and forth, which we can all agree is WAY easier than doing a thorough shoveling job, Jake came bounding out to my rescue. He wanted to push me out. I rolled down my window, told him what to do, and IT ACTUALLY WORKED!. My kids have always been super helpful, but they’re still at the ages where the more they help, the harder I have to work.
We came back into the house and Jake was so excited, he kept having us feel his muscles, and bragging himself up as a “super strong kid” and how some day he’ll be “a good driver” of a car. He labeled himself a “good helper.” All true.
He’s taken to calling me Ryan. Sometimes Daddy Ryan, but more often, just Ryan. I keep reminding him that my name is DAD, but he seems fixated on this little bit of rebellion. Usually, after he’s been corrected or scolded, he’ll storm off muttering something like Daddy Ryan is WRONG, or Daddy Ryan is STUPID under his breath.
As he matures, and the hormones start churning, he’s going to start getting angrier at things than in the past. We’re working really hard teaching him to replace his frustrated slaps and pushes with helpful words and de-escalation tools he can call on BEFORE a meltdown. A simple “I need a break” would be so helpful in those situations where things build up and build up until he pops. Just the other day, Olivia was using HER Kindle Fire. Jake was furious. He wanted a turn. I can’t fully capture the fury and the look of incredulity on his face when he approached Beth and I to complain loudly, “Olivia is playing with MY Olivia’s Kindle Fire.” He demanded she have only 5 more minutes before his turn to play. We calmly explained that Liv could play with her Kindle as long as she’d like, and he’d just have to find something else to fill his time. He stormed off looking for paper to make a sign. After a few tries, and a few loud protestations, including angrily asking how to spell DON’T, he made a sign that said DON’T TOUCH LIV’S KINDLE FIRE. He presented this to Liv and demanded that she obey his new edict. It went something like this: “Olivia has 2 minutes left, BUT FIRST…” and with that he thrust his hand forward so we could read his sign. It was hard not to giggle.
He’s even decided that he’s getting much bigger. Almost daily he lines himself up with Beth to see how much taller he’s become. Each time he tries to sneak his hand a little higher on her body, trying to convince himself he’s sprouting like a weed.
The whole ordeal’s kind of cute, but it begs the question:
When is it “normal” to start with these things?
Kids we get. Autism we get. Teens we are vaguely aware of, having watched and helped a number of nieces and nephews navigate those years. Teens with autism are a mystery.
Does anyone have any consolation, words of wisdom, scary stories to share?
Are there things we should be certain to do? Things to avoid?