This time next week I will be the mom of a teenager. (Also a 6 year old kindergartner, but that's for next week's discussion.)
I know lots of moms - and probably dads - who get a little nostalgic about this milestone, but I am not sad about it. I'm excited and proud and eager to see what's next.
Maybe it's because Spencer, at 8'8.5" and about 150 lbs is kind of a man-child already. From the back, he certainly doesn't look like a 7th grader. He wears a 34x32 pant and a size 11 shoe. I don't know if he's done growing. I kind of hope he's not. I'd love for him to get to 6 foot, but genetics may dictate that he's where he will be and if that's the case, then looking at him at nearly 13 is going to be remarkably similar to looking at him at 18 or 25 or 40. It's become increasingly easy to see him in a large number of roles coming his way - driving a car, dating, going to college (gulp), as a dad... yep... he's more man now than kid. Or at the very least young adult...
Maybe it's because Spence is our oldest. I know that I have other little guys behind him that still let me cuddle them and carry them up the stairs. I imagine this will be a different conversation in 9 years as Beckett nears 13. I don't mean this to imply that watching Bovy go through this milestone event and enter the teenage years isn't special - because it certainly is! But I don't view this as a sad event. It's more of another notch in the belt. It's the continuation of a transition from boy to man. He's not done yet... but he's well on his way and that's worth celebrating!
Maybe this doesn't seem like a huge change because Spencer has always been an old soul. He's always had a sense of humor beyond his years - and an intellect to match. The fact that he's man-handling the advanced coursework he's taking this year, while also spending upwards of 14 hours a week in football-related activities, eases my mind that he's going to be just fine as he transitions to the teenage years. He has some good teachers this year, maybe some great ones! He also has some who are kind of quacky and have some expectations that are not exactly in line with what Spence feels is best. He's learning to deal with the good and the bad and to, when appropriate, just shut his mouth and do the weird stuff that's asked of him. He's starting to figure out what he likes and what he wants to do - or maybe it's more accurate to say he's figuring out what he doesn't want to do. When I ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he still tells me that it's silly for a 12 year old to answer that question. I can't disagree with that. He does talk, frequently, of going to a military academy and serving his country. Bob and I are very supportive of this, but in no way pushing the idea. He loves the idea of the discipline and the service and the prestige and, in his very practical brain, the idea that it's a free education with perks along the way. Given how goal-oriented Spencer can be, the fact that he has this as an idea in his head means I wouldn't be surprised if we find ourselves seriously discussing this as an option over the coming years.
Maybe I am not sad about this 13th birthday because I am too busy dealing with feelings of pride and contentment. Spencer has matured to the point that he listens (when he wants to) and seems to value our opinions (about some things). I've seen him take input and feedback and put it into use. I mentioned to him once that I was impressed with the kids who look me in the eye when I talk to them while I serve them during the weekly football spaghetti dinners or help out as water girl during the football games. The kids who look you in the eye, I told him, come across as confident and respectful. I have seen him on countless occasions since that conversation looking other adults directly in the eyes while thanking or chatting or asking a question. It makes me very happy that he seems to value the same traits in himself that I want him to have - and that he's willing to work at making himself better. If I could only convince him that living like a slob and leaving dirty clothes all over the place is inappropriate we would be rocking and rolling!
Maybe I don't pine for the little boy because I really love the role model that our oldest has become. The little brothers have always idolized Spence, but recently it's become even more pronounced. I think it's because they really don't get to spend much time together. Their schedules just don't overlap very much - so they don't have enough time to get sick of each other. When Spence is around, he's a jungle gym, a teacher, a disciplinarian, a playmate, and a mentor. He works with the little boys on their football stances and shares wisdom with them about when to be tough and how to be a good team mate. After a particularly hard football practice one night, Zane came home with bumps and bruises and was asleep before Spence got home. The VERY first thing Zane asked when he woke up was if we had told Spencer how tough he was during the previous night's practice. Those little boys value Spencer's opinion of them even more than mine! Outside of sports, Bovy is the most perfect role model for a student that I could ever ask for. There is a new, and pretty awesome, competition going on in our house around grades between Spencer and Quinn. They are pushing each other to be better and the little boys watch and listen and take it all in. I don't have to push them... they have a built in network of motivation. I just sit back and encourage where I can and let everyone know I love them and couldn't be more proud of my little bunch of boys. It really warms my heart to know that together they are going to be better than they ever would be on their own.
Maybe I just don't have time to be nostalgic because of the insanely busy schedule we are working our way through this fall season. I was talking to Zane a week or so ago about his birthday, which is just around the corner too, and when I told him his birthday was less than 2 weeks away I nearly expired right there in the middle of the kitchen. Time flies when you don't have a chance to stop and think. That's a good thing sometimes, but also kind of dangerous! It's important, for me, to seek out a few minutes here and there to focus on quality over quantity. Luckily for me, Spencer operates in this fashion and very often will sit and talk while he eats dinner (well after the rest of the family due to schedule constraints) and he comes in for a good night cuddle/snuggle/chat nearly every night before he goes to bed. Some of my favorite moments with him happen on the way home from practice or while he downs half a gallon of milk, glass after glass, while I make him a snack or post-game meal. I don't long for the child that Spencer was, because I quite like the young adult that he has become.
This is going to be a great year! I wish Spencer a very happy birthday and can't wait to see all the great things he will accomplish as a TEENAGER!