Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be High Schoolers

After his long journey navigating the tortuous road to high school, C. Peevie has officially enrolled in classes for fall 2009 at Jones College Prep.

Just to backtrack a teensy bit: When C. Peevie was a sweet-smelling angel of a baby, I would hold him close and feel sorry for my friends whose kids were gigantic high schoolers. I would think to myself, Oh, how sad that they don't get to have the baby experience anymore. They must miss it so much: the cuddling, the adorable clothes, the cooing and gurgling, the toothless smiles that made everyone within a six-mile radius smile back.

And now, with my baby boy entering high school and wearing man-size pants and shoes three sizes bigger than mine--I have to tell you folks who are feeling sorry for me because my babies are no longer babies: Don't.

I do not miss those days AT ALL. I don't miss the stinky diaper smell that pervaded the entire house. I do not miss the constant gnawing on my breasts. I do not miss sleeping next to a staticky baby monitor for the slightest sigh, and wondering if I should get up YET AGAIN to make sure he's still breathing. I don't miss carrying around all the baby equipment: diapers, wipes, Cheerios, bottles, toys, extra outfits, and kitchen sinks.

I don't miss measuring the disgustingness of a poopy diaper by the number of wipes it took to clean it up ("Yow! It's a 12-wiper!"). I don't miss having to carry him everywhere--although it was kind of nice to be able to shove him, in his car seat, under the table at a restaurant during dinner. Now he takes up space and costs money.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed every minute of those days. OK, maybe not every minute, but many, many of them. But now that we're past them, I don't miss them. However. This week my little boy hopped on the Brown Line by himself, headed downtown, got off at the right stop, and met Mr. Peevie at his office. They walked to Jones and enrolled him in his freshman classes: math, world studies, lit, physics, French, P.E./health, and theater.

I am a little bit verklempt.

Here I am, facing the looming prospect that C. Peevito is headed to high school in a few short months, and taking public transportation all over the city--and part of me just wants to tell him STOP! Just stop growing up. I can't take it any more.

He is straddling the fence between childhood and adulthood. His voice is deepening, he'll be taller than me in about an hour (if he's not already; I didn't check today), and he's pretty much accepted the fact that he needs to shower every single day. At least once.

But in many ways, he's still a child. Being within 30 feet of his younger siblings causes his maturity level to plummet. His pre-frontal cortex won't reach maturity for another ten years or so, according to this Chicago Tribune article. That means he lacks impulse control and emotional stability.

It means he still drives me nuts--but he literally can't help himself. It must be tough being an adolescent. I remember a tiny bit about those years, myself, even though they were in a completely different geologic era. I remember my dad yelling at me for doing something I wasn't supposed to do, and my standard answer was, "I couldn't help it. It was an accident."

" 'You couldn't help it!' " my dad would growl, "That's what you always say!"

Turns out I was right. And now the Universe is getting back at me with my very own man-child. Who's almost in high school.


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