Eleven years old is the new thirteen. They are all pubescent and adolescent and so so over you.
Mothering the eleven-year-old is all about being there but acting like you’re not. You gotta be there to say it’s enough computer time. You gotta remind them to eat a snack. You gotta tell them to put deodorant on. You have to force them to bathe. And then you slink off into your own world where you won’t embarrass them too much until you plan family time and feel ready to ride their eleven-year-old emotional roller coaster. It’s always worth it to me. Stacking the deck by feeding, watering and being sure he’s not exhausted works better. But still, it’s a crap shoot.
Eleven years old also seems to be about me no longer getting to read my own books. I love, eat up, cherish the time we still share where I read books to him at night. I’m talking about my own reading time. Last month he read “The Giver” and said, “Mom, you gotta read it. It’s so good.” I figure when your kid recommends a book you go for it. What a great way to connect with a guy who thinks everything I say is dumb and who randomly points out that my nostrils look uneven and other fun physical foibles. Maybe we can find something else to talk about this way!
I get why kids like the book. I’d teach it. But I find Lois Lowry a bit heavy handed and predictable and, well, I guess I don’t dig her style. But I read it and we talked about it a bit. Mostly though he was just glad to know I was reading it. It made him feel closer to me somehow to share it without really needing to talk about it.
I thought I was done. Nope. “Gathering Blue,” is the companion book and he says, “You gotta read that next.” Now, I’m at a point in my life where I’m willing to make his bed for a kiss. That’s right, I’m a chore whore for a kiss from my eleven-year-old. And it’s not a long book.
Sometimes, a short book takes a long time to read. I finished it today. Minutes ago. I’m going to get back to my own Donna Tarte book! “I’m done!” I call out. He’s proud of me. I can tell. Then he climbs up onto the arm of the couch and pulls down book three in the series from the shelf and puts it on my lap. “Read this one. It will teach you.”
There’s a fourth book, too.
My eleven-year-old needs me around in the background these days. It’s amazing how being in the background can suck the living life and freedom out of a person! It’s the new giving.