Cutting The Apron Strings

I have so many things I want to write about I fear I’m bursting at the seams. But each in their own time.

Right now I want to write about one of my favorite subjects. Charlie. This kid is something that has changed my life in so many ways.

First off his coming into my life was unexpected and very much welcomed. We’ve established that way back when.

The early years were a blessing and a curse, he was so sweet and questioning when he was young and then when he grew there were so many problems that showed up that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. Such as his eventual diagnosis of ADHD, and later his diagnosis of Aspergers.

Then there were the mood swings and inability to touch him without him screaming. So many things never made sense. As much as I loved him raising him was a different story. It was terrifying to feel that you couldn’t wait until he spent a few days with his other parent. But that was what his father and I felt that first year of not knowing what was going on. We would both call each other in tears because we didn’t know how to deal with his outbursts. Eventually with a lot of therapy we figured out what was wrong and how to handle the problems.

Fast forward 12 years. There have been so many changes in his life. He’s changed school several times due to our inability to find a place we want to stay in. My husband J and I bought a house in the suburbs of Chicago that is frankly, one of the best.

We chose it for their school system.

Junior High was a combination of excitement and disappointment. So many things went wrong the last two years. The last year he finally figured out he could fight back, and that he did. And to hear the Assistant Principal pull me aside and tell me that while she still has to suspend him for fighting, she’s so damned proud of him for finally giving back to the kids who’ve been tearing him down, gave me a bit of unexpected happiness.

Charlie is a really interesting kid. He loves so much and always keeps an open mind. He’s only cared about doing his own thing but at the same time he wants people to notice him and be his friend. Jr. High left him feeling like he was nothing.

The day of his 8th grade graduation I went with his father and a friend of mine(whose daughter was graduating as well). We dealt with all the usual as it went along. No one was allowed to clap or show emotion until the very end. The kids were told to do the same. By midway through the announcements that stopped and they were hooting and hollering for certain kids. Well it came time for my son to walk across the stage. My kid who was equally abused at times by some and also loved by others.

Suddenly his name was called and as he walked across there was this clapping and hollering Yay Charlie from all these kids in the audience. His fellow classmates. I think I was so stunned that it was meant for him that I didn’t get it at first, until my friend hit me hard in the leg and she said to me “Did YOU HEAR THAT??” And I look at C’s dad and he’s saying the same. And oh my god, that’s for my SON. My kid who never felt like he belonged. And they’re yelling his name and clapping.

I started crying.

And it only became worse when they showed the video of all the kids throughout the year. They showed all the kids in different classes and suddenly they showed a photo on career day with C and the local policeman. And all the kids hollered for him again. THEN I burst into massive, uncontrollable tears.

After what seemed like three years of absolute hell with this kid of never feeling welcome or cared about by his peers I couldn’t help myself. And he felt it too.

Fast forward nearly three months later. Jr. High is over. And he’s in High School. I’m nervous as is he. But the resulting factor is that he loves it.

He’s in some specialized classes that combine kids like him who need some extra help with kids that are mainstreamed but he hasn’t missed a beat. They’re actually better for him then the classes where he was mainstreamed . In these classes there is such a mixture he understands that he can do so much more then he thought he could.

He’s happier than I ever thought I’d see him be. He loves his teachers. He said the kids are so much nicer. Even kids from last year that were not the kindest to him.

First day of registration some young girl threw herself upon him hugging him(see Teenage Boys are Weird). The kid grew a couple inches over the summer and seems to have filled out. He’s a good-looking kid.

I tried to push him into the school Xbox club thinking my video game loving kid would be all over it. He argued with me two days ago and said he’d rather do sports, or if that wasn’t available anymore he’d rather do the art, film and writing clubs. Oh man who is this kid??

I met his teachers the other night at an open house. And I’m beyond thrilled with what they have to offer him and what they will do for him. How they will truly help him with succeeding and growing so that he can 100% mainstream next year. He loves art. And his drawing teacher is a first year teacher, just out of college. C told me they’ve already had conversations over their love of comic books. I think this may be beneficial as the year goes on.

The last few days he comes home to me and tells me in detail the things he’s learned in class. I’ve never seen this awareness and interest in his classes in him in forever. He loves high school.

The last two days I’ve had my heart in my throat. Last night it hit me and I cried in bed, a huge weight lifted from my chest for the first time in years. The tears were more for happiness then for being sad.

He told me he wants to go to Homecoming. He still doesn’t have a group of friends to hang out with so I questioned who or what he was going with.

A girl from Junior High. He was head over heels for her in 7th and it didn’t go well. Forgot about her in 8th. Now they have a class together and they talk a lot. I told him it’s three weeks away it may not happen. What will you do if she says no?

He told me tonight that even if she says no he understands, he’ll be disappointed but he understands. He still wants to go. Even if it’s alone.

I don’t know what to do.

I’m not sure she’ll say yes.

But he’s grown up so much this summer, both vertically and emotionally. I’ve seen such a big difference in him the last few weeks.

He’s also told me he wants to try out for football next year. Umm.. we’ll talk about this one later kid. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

The fact is that there’s this overwhelming feeling that’s come over me that this kid is growing up and doesn’t need me as much anymore and I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’ve spent so many years of my life protecting him and making sure everything went smooth.

Now he doesn’t want me involved. He wants to make his own way. Something I’ve always wanted him to do.

But now that the time is here I’m positively terrified.

All I can do is be there when he needs me, if things don’t go his way, if life doesn’t turn out the way he plans it to be.

I’m still not ready for this kid to grow up. I don’t think I’m ready for the pain that’s going to go along with the teenage years. I wasn’t ready for it when I was a teen, not sure I can handle it having one. But I know one thing.

This kid is an amazing kid and despite all of his past problems, he has so much to offer to anyone who takes the time to know him.

So maybe it’s time for me to stop trying to protect him all the time, to maybe let him spread his wings a bit, to let him take that leap and fly.

Just maybe I will.

Just maybe I’ll let him take some girl to Homecoming. Just maybe I’ll be prepared for him to see what an amazing person he is.

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