What 10 and 12 looks like

My youngest is ten years old, soon to be eleven, he’s so young in some ways and so very old, and wise in others.  The changes in him are becoming subtle, more nuanced.  His interest in things now lasts for months and years because he seems to understand the next new thing, is not necessarily the next best thing.  Star Wars, Harry Potter, Legos, Celtic music, Narnia, medieval swords, World War II, Fablehaven, Gandalf, Maileg mice, these are his favorite things.  But his true favorites are his family and friends.  He still wakes up with a ferocious hug for me every morning, he says he loves homeschooling and believes that I am the best teacher he could have.  He is getting impatient about growing so we’ve been marking his height once a week lately.  He joined a swim team this year, even though it’s more his sister’s thing, and keeps me rapt on the drive home with observations about his peers.  He tells me he’d like to get married one day and have a wife like me.

Twelve!  The last of the tweens for my daughter, in a matter of months she’ll be a teen.  Outspoken, brave, and confident, I can’t help wonder how she, especially, would be different had we chosen traditional schooling instead of homeschooling.  She is hard on herself, she wants to get it “right”, she wants to be true to herself.  She would rather be alone than dance to anyone else’s tune, she says she feels more comfortable around guys her age than girls, who commonly wear a “mask”.  She is quick to defend others and quick to loose her temper, much to her chagrin.  She loves swimming.  Strong, graceful and speedy, when she finishes swim practice I can feel the vitality and peace rolling off of her.  She loves her family, her brother most of all, with a fierce devotion.  She still grabs for a hand when we go walking, lacing fingers together and letting them swing.  She is perceptive, thoughtful, kind and says she loves having a mama like me.  Our embraces are getting longer rather than shorter as she grows into a young adult, she’s smart like that.

I’ve been warned off of so many stages by other well meaning parents:  Just wait till they’re two! Oh, wait for the fu*%ing fours!  Ugh, the tween stage, everything is so awkward!  Most recently, Get ready for the teenage years, nothing will be the same.  I don’t mean to say all parents walk around with warning signs and Lord knows we all have bad days when the parenting experience feels overwhelming.  BUT every single moment of being a parent to those two kids I’m talking about above has served me well.  The good and bad, lovely and sad, I feel immensely grateful for it all!