The Three “T’s” of a Transforming Ten Year-Old

You could imagine my surprise when my iHeart Radio app greeted me with a song laden with “f” words yesterday.  My standard “90’s Pop Workout” station had been changed by my suddenly deceptive 10 year-old son.

This was an “I can’t believe I’m here” moment for me – the realization that I’ve reached a new stop on the accelerating bus ride through fatherhood.

I’m not sure if I’m ready.

The parenting zone I’m in right now feels comfortable.  I’ve done some solid Good-Bad Dad work from the “infant through elementary school” bus stop for a while now.  My dictatorial approach works well right here.

That way of operating, although sufficient for my younger kids, may be fledgling with my growing-up-at-warp-speed oldest son.

My 10 year-old is forcing a new version of fatherhood from me – this bus will not be making a U-turn to drop me back off in the baby-zone that feels so comfy.

I’m heading directly toward a new level of parenting that requires more mental swag – more “Spidey-Sense” and less “Hulk Smash.”  This is the place where other influences are beginning to drown out my voice.  My dictatorship is crumbling.

I should not have been surprised by the recent transformation.  I should have recognized the three “T’s” of a transforming 10 year-old: technology, teasing and television.

Technology

Using our tablet or phone used to be a way for my son to decompress – a way we had agreed to allow for some limited dead-head time in the midst of our overly-hurried normalcy.

His use of technology is changing.  The internet has now become my son’s source for information.  Whether it be finding his favorite music, researching topics from school, completing online homework assignments or trying to learn more about Harry Potter, the internet is the place he turns for answers.  That is scary for this unprepared GBD.

I’m not as worried about what is on the web because his “Googling” is supervised.  I’m more concerned that the storm of technology that I’ve been able to successful stave off is now on-shore.

I lament the thought that when a cell phone goes on Santa’s list again next year, we may have to consider it a real gift option.

Teasing

My three school-agers seem to pick at each other relentlessly.  I’ve accepted the nagging as my kids’ back-handed expression of love for each other.  I’m feeling less like that with my oldest.

He has discovered the way to cut through shallow nagging to reach places that really are hurtful – especially when he feels doubted or questioned.

What used to end with, “No it’s not, Vivi” is now ending with “Vivi, how would a stupid first-grader know that anyway?  You can’t even read chapter books.”

The nagging that accompanies virtually every car ride is now cunning – more of a power-play than simply wanting to be right.

Television

When “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” became “SpongeBob SquarePants” for my son a few years ago I took notice – my baby was growing up.  I don’t know why a similar move from any show with animated characters to only those with real actors for my 10 year-old eluded me completely.  I missed this signal.

We’ve reached the point of consistent lobbying to watch PG-13 (or R) rated movies because “everyone else does.”  I never would have guessed that I’d be so quickly reaching the bus stop where I’d be wishing to hear, “Whoooooooo lives in a pineapple under the sea”, again.

I’d rather not have family movie night begin with a Red Box facing plea from my son, “Dad, there are only a few swears and not that much violence in this one, I promise.  Can we get it?”

Yes, the fatherhood bus has now dropped me off at the stop where getting something wrong may not be remedied by getting the next thing right.  This is the place where I might not even have the opportunity to be wrong unless I connect better with my son.

Although I was able to hit “stop” on the curse-filled iHeart Radio song my oldest listened to, I don’t have that luxury as he leads me toward parenting an adolescent.

With that said, at this fatherhood bus stop, I may need to reacquaint myself with a different trio of “T’s”: Tanqueray, tonic and Tylenol.

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