You know how usually your kids change so gradually that you don't often notice? They grow taller. Their hair changes. They mature. That is certainly true for me. All of a sudden, I will realize that my oldest son has left "boy" behind in exchange for "man". I will notice that my youngest daughter is on her last few months of being a "teen" and has developed talents I was never aware of before.
Recently, however, my youngest son (turns 14 in May) did a transformation of enormous proportions in less than two hours. It was like watching "Jekyll and Hyde" only in a GOOD way (and without the music). We attended a teen gathering two and a half weeks ago. He didn't want to go. He is a "home body", much preferring to hang out on the computer or read on the couch. His evil mother made him go, however, also forcing his older brother to tag along reluctantly. We were the first to arrive and already the boys were chafing to leave. Had the meeting place not been in a bakery, they would have already headed to the car, but they were holding out hope for a cinnamon roll first.
We sat, we waited (while one of them had a roll . . . ) and the teens and parents rolled in. Within 30 minutes, the teen table had a dozen people sitting at it with chatting, giggling and other expected behavior. We moms (and dad) sat to the side doing our own fair share of chatting and giggling. I was aware that the oldest son was restless; in fact, he ended up doing what he often does in social situations: hangs with the adults and entertains the toddlers--which was fine.
But our other son? The shy one? The one who is usually ready to head out the door? He was having a fabulous time. He was talking animatedly. He was moving around the table. He was as hyper as I have ever seen him. At the end of two hours, he did not want to go. He had memorized all their names. He asked me repeatedly, "We are coming back next week, right?"
(We did and he had just as good a time.)
But what has happened since this first meeting? This "home body" has begged me to find as many social activities as I can for him. Anything I have found, we have gone to (an OMSI party, a game day, rockwall climbing party, etc.) More over, he has moved towards independence in ways I would have said he'd never try yet. He is talking about going to RESIDENT CAMP this fall. That is a HUGE step for a son who has struggled terribly with anxiety and homesickness for years and years. He told me, "I want to have something fun to go out and do every single day now" and I've been working to help him do that. I certainly can't promise EVERY day but I still feel like we have gone from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds.
He is happier--more confident--and while he was a FABULOUS person already, he has truly blossomed this time around. He counts the days until Tuesday (teen group day) and talks to his siblings about camp all the time (they are both veterans). We have always been proud of him, of course, but this new stage in his life that appeared in a flash, has made him, I believe, proud of himself. It doesn't get better than that.