Leo turns thirteen this year, and I worry about him when out of my sight, what parent wouldn’t. He has also started going to a high school of his choice: one of those uniform-less establishments that nurture individuality. We see that as a positive – suddenly he’s on his own path, and one that is of his own choosing – or so he is led to believe! The changes within him were subtle at first, beginning in the school holidays.
Leo, for years my un- image conscious child, wanted a pair of trainers by a well-known brand, simply because they were a known name. Not because he needed them. So, we bought them – all good. When he announced he was growing his hair I tried to stay light-hearted. I even teased him a little. It wasn’t like he was asking to borrow my car. Yet.
A week into the first term, Leo started locking his bedroom door. Not for the first time, but habitually. He said he wanted privacy. Fair enough. It seems like yesterday he was still asking me to play Lego. Then he started getting phone calls. Girls who wanted to speak to him. Okay, so his hormones have arrived. Then came the request for a cellphone (the moment I’ve been dreading). All that peer pressure. Next it’ll be a motorbike. And of course, he’s on the Internet or gaming all the time.
As a parent, I feel I am losing control. Of course I am. It happens all too quickly. The moment we can no longer carry them on our hip, shove a spoon of food in their mouth or plonk a sun hat on them (truth be told, we all know they whip that one off the moment we are out of sight) – the balance changes, from nappy woes to safety concerns.
In a few short years Leo will choose a career, a partner, and his own set of values and beliefs. He’s become pretty sassy with his mouth. The one area I feel we still communicate well about is his safety. He doesn’t have or want the maturity level to organise his own school lifts (I work, and leave home super early to avoid the traffic). It’s a big relief to us that there are easy, reliable transport services an email away. We still agree that it’s important to be on time, to look after yourself, and to stick to a budget!
I’m really ‘stoked’ about that, as Leo would say. Even if he does board Rubix’s daily scholar transport looking like he got dragged through a bush backwards (why do we have to see his underpants sticking out, exactly?) But I do think those wonderful Rubix drivers understand. At least he has nice shoes, I tell myself.