Tuesday, July 22, 2014


At the Tower of London, June 2014
Last night, we watched the Wiggles on YouTube. An entire episode. N made the dogs dance to "Fruit Salad" (yummy yummy). We did the motions to "Hot Potato." When it was over, N said, "Awww. I wish we had time for another one. But we can watch more tomorrow, right?"

N is 13. Thirteen and a half, this weekend. Going into eighth grade, next month.

I wonder, sometimes, if this is the wrong thing to do, to indulge these moments. They're frequent. They're often what we do together, when it's just the two of us. We watch Dragon Tales. We watch Curious George. We watch Blues Clues. We read Go Dog Go. (We play Go Fish, and War, and Nok Hockey, or we play frisbee in the park. It's not all passive. Just had to say that, even though it's not relevant here!)

The Wiggles is new (again; he was a huge fan as a preschooler), but it's just another Dragon Tales, just another Curious George.

Each time, I wonder: Should he realize that this is 'baby stuff'? That this is young? He doesn't seem to. Does he realize that there are some--though I'm not really among them--who would think this is inappropriately young? If I say something, if I make sure he would know not to suggest this kind of viewing in front of his peers--dear god, please not in front of his peers, the few who are still with him, most having outstripped him, many starting to peel away from him--won't I make him feel ashamed? I don't want him to feel ashamed at feeling joy. But I also don't want him to walk out in front of the bus that is middle-school social life without shouting a warning to him, either.

Not to mention the constant reminders I get from the 'experts' that I need not to hold him back, maturity-wise. He still sucks his thumb (as I did, right up to this age, so I know the comfort therein, as well as the oddness of keeping up that comfort at this age), and I fight to not make that an issue, because there are things more harmful, I believe. And yet they tell me that it will taint the way other see him, that it makes him a target for bullying and, more subtly, it makes it harder for other kids to connect to him or want to connect to him, if they see him as younger, as a baby. That I need to realize that he's 13, and needs to learn how to take care of himself. He's still not comfortable turning on or taking a shower by himself; he worries when asked to cut his own meat with a sharp knife. I tend not to even think before I do these things for him. I need to think. Especially about the shower and the knife. I need to make those things easier for him to take on by himself, to support him without carrying him.

But the Wiggles? Are they a comfort I should allow him? Or are they a dull knife that I'm handing him, making it difficult for him to get through a meal without assistance?

Then, there's the flip side.

My son loves guns. It's a subject I try not to talk about much, because if there's anything that brings out the hidden judgment of other parents, it's boys who love guns. Still, he does. He owns every model of Nerf he can possibly get his hands on. He has marshmallow guns, rubber-band guns, water guns, cap guns. He literally dreams of an AirSoft gun and/or a BB gun. (And I squash those dreams; not at my house. Not with a kid whose impulse control is less than perfect.)

He decides which movies to watch with his dad based on whether or not the movie will have guns in it. Top Gun? It has guns in the NAME, duh. James Bond? Oh, yeah. Die Hard? EVEN BETTER. Bring it on. The more bad guys that go down--and the more spectacularly they do so--the better. There is almost nothing in this genre he won't watch, and he and his father are twins in this, loving the time together seeing movies I don't even want to hear the names of.

Keep in mind that this is the kid who got nervous last night when the Wiggles heard a growling noise and went out into the night to investigate with Wags the Dog, only to (spoiler alert) realize it was Jeff's tummy growling, a noise that was squelched when they gave him an apple to eat.

"This is making me scared," he said at first, starting to turn away from the screen.

"Phew," he said, when the mystery was solved.

But entire office buildings full of people going up in flames after a series of explosions? He's glued to the screen.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, except that these different sides of my boy lead to an extreme case of whiplash.

I guess I'm just trying to play all of this out. I have to let him grow up. I have to, in some cases, push him out of his comfort zone, out of the nest, even if it makes me uncomfortable.

But I also want to--have to--accept him. Celebrate who he is. I don't want him to ever feel ashamed to be N, in all his remarkable N-ness. I want him to know how spectacular he is, and to just be ever so much MORE himself. The Nerf guns are part of that, for sure. The whole lust for a feeling of control over the world around him makes sense, and if a bunch of soft darts give him that, I can deal (though I constantly, relentlessly tell him why I hate guns, never so much more than right now).

So where are the Wiggles in all this? Are they the comfort zone, the nest? Or are they part of his N-ness? Do I push him past them, or do I celebrate the part of him that still loves them?

To Wiggle, or not to Wiggle? That is the question.


Green said...

1. May I suggest The Last Boyscout? There's sex, drugs and a lot of shooting. It has been one of my favorite movies since it came out. (Maybe it's inappropriate for him, I don't know - I was always allowed to watch, read and listen to anything I wanted to.)
2. I just saw a behaviorist talking about "comfort moves" and she mentioned that adults who as babies (or as kids?) found comfort in sucking their thumbs, can find socially acceptable comfort in tucking their thumb into the palm of their hand and then closing their fingers over it.
3. For some reason, I think warning N about not inviting a friend over to watch Curious George will come across more loudly, more clearly, if it comes from your daughter than you.
4. What does N do when he goes to someone's house for dinner and they serve steak? He needs to be able to use a steak knife. I'd say (as someone who doesn't have to do this at all) it's time to make a list of goals with him and start tackling them. Maybe August is showering, September is cutting/knives, etc. Start with the easiest ones, and then when he gets nervous he can look back at all the past months to give him confidence at all the difficult/scary things he can conquer.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any answers because I have almost EXACTLY the same issues with my 12 year old. At least I feel a little better, less alone. These are ridiculous, from another planet, decisions we have to make so our kids can live happily on this planet.
Yesterday he asked for Santa to bring him a computer so that he could play M rated Skyrim.