This year, for me, is a whole new journey in parenting. My son is in grade 7 and for the first time I am able to personally relate to his experiences. I distinctly remember what grade 7 was like and what was going on. In the past, other than a few snippets or moments in time, I just don’t remember much. I couldn’t tell you the specifics of Kindergarten or the challenges of being, say, 8 years-old.
But grade 7 is different. I distinctly remember how it felt. I remember the physical changes, the emotional angst, the insecurities and the hormonal breakdowns. I remember the awkwardness, the crushes and the peer pressure. I remember my friendships and my changing relationship with my parents. I remember the dances, the boy/girl parties, and the developing curiosity around the opposite sex.
In so many ways being able to relate to your children is a good thing. But there are a few things I struggle with during this time of great change. Sometimes when I see what my boy is dealing with my initial reaction is to view it through my 12 year old eyes. I have found myself projecting how my experiences were at 12 or 13 onto what he is going through. The problem with this is twofold: 1) He is not me. And 2) This doesn’t help. Not only is he a different kid in a different time but he needs his mother’s perspective and wisdom. If he needed a friend he would turn to one.
Another toughie is that, although I have tons of memories and remember a lot from grade 7 it was nearly 30 (gulp) years ago and I may have forgotten a thing or two. On a daily basis my friends and I say to each other, “Did we do that in grade 7?” In other words, “Is this normal for a 12 year old?!” Some of the things we hear are both shocking and scary. Our kids still seem like babies to us (as I’m sure we did to our parents) but they are doing, or at least talking about, some pretty grown-up stuff.
But, after lengthy discussions, we come to the same conclusion every time. Yes, we were doing those things, or at least talking about them, in grade 7. The biggest difference? Our parents were, for the most part, in the dark. There was no facebook post for another mom to happen upon, no text messages to get wind of, no inappropriate BBM status update reported back by someone being “helpful”. There were very few ways our parents could find out our goings on even if they wanted to. But it certainly didn’t mean we weren’t doing things.
What it means is that we as parents are faced with more information and, therefore, more decisions. That our kids and their choices are out there for everyone to see. Is this bad? In some ways yes. In some ways no. It helps if you are concerned or suspicious but can hinder your child’s journey to independence and, let’s face it, some things we just don’t need to know.
What do you think? Are we better off knowing? Were you up to “things”, or at least talking about them, in grade 7?