Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eldest son

juj and mom
Originally uploaded by monpon.

It is a rainy, overcast morning and I had planned on getting out in the garden and planting a few seeds, seedlings and flowers and digging out a couple of old stumps from a pair of dying bushes. But, seeing as it grey and chilly and I am feeling a bit moody (could they possibly be related?), I'll wait till sunnier days. I have been thinking a lot about change lately: kids getting older and needing me less in familiar ways, marriage and the many stages it goes through, especially with young children, and as the semester ends and I reach my half-way point for a BFA, I wonder what lies beyond that.

As for my eldest, he is about to be a teenager in a few short months. And although he has always been strong willed and not afraid to question authority, he is moving into a place where he will be making more and more of his own decisions. It is tricky to find that balance between his decisions and our limits, his opinions and our values, his need to explore and experiment and our insistence on his safety.

Take the issue of technology for example; it is not uncommon for some middle school aged kids these days to have cell phones, video gaming systems, computers with Internet access, i pods, cable TV, email and texting. I feel like half the battle these days is limiting electronics, which is tough with a kid who at an early age played with snap circuits, who asked for batteries and wires for his birthdays and has interests in solar power and electricity. He has to-date taken apart two computers, modified his pc with more memory and ram than he will ever need, added a second disk drive and 11 speakers, downloaded free software onto his Nintendo DS so that he now has a browser and an operating system and can tap into free wi-fi in the neighborhood. There is no stopping this kid and like myself and my sisters and brother he has a bit of the obsessive in him.

I am proud that he has found something he is truly interested in and is self-motivated to learn more about, and for now we've settled on limited computer/electronic time and making sure he rounds out his days with sports, school work, reading, socializing and outdoor time.

But we can tell where his heart really is.

I do wish perhaps that the world wasn't so technologically driven and that this generation of kids wasn't growing up with an endless stream of digital information. This is when I wish for simpler times, a few acres of land with space for tree climbing and fort building, a creek to wade and fish in, a thicket to run through, to play and hide in. And he knows the value of this, I have to trust that. But he is venturing out on his own, full of opinions and ideas that are his not mine. Hold on tightly, I think, and let go slowly.

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