For those of you keeping up with the mustache saga at my house, it finally happened! My 13-year-old son shaved his scraggly first mustache. I’m thrilled and relieved. But, the most interesting part about this monumental achievement is I didn’t even notice for almost a day! When did it happen? How did I miss that? Those dark whiskers have bugged the snot out of me for a solid nine months.
If I’m being honest with myself, this shouldn’t surprise me. The mustache shaving follows suit with the rest of my son’s developmental milestones. He moves to the next stage of growth when, and only when, he’s good and ready. The more you talk about it, encourage it, hope it’s going to happen, the longer he’s going to wait.
I didn’t think he would ever roll over. I made sure he had enough “tummy time” and interesting toys to entice him to move to the other side of the blanket, but nope. He decided to roll over one afternoon when I walked into the kitchen for something and wasn’t even looking.
I didn’t think he would ever crawl. I’m serious about this one. He was nearly nine months old and just didn’t care anything about crawling. I tried to show him how to move forward. I had his favorite person (grandpa) go to the other side of the room and try to convince him to crawl. No luck.
Right at 10 months old he started pulling up on the coffee table in the living room and “cruising” around the couch. When I dropped him off at day care a week or so after that, I sat him in the floor with his buddies and turned to leave. The day care lady started whisper shouting at me – loud enough to get my attention but not so loud as to scare the babies – and when I turned around, my little boy was halfway across the room walking to me. *Joy* then *Facepalm*
I don’t know why I thought teenage milestones would be any different.
So, here’s yet another story of my kid doing what I want him to do but only when he wants to do it.
Today about 2 PM – sitting in the kitchen at my parents’ house
Me: Hey, what time do I need to pick you… *audible gasp* Did you shave your mustache?
Kid: Yeah, I told you that.
Me: Oh no you did not! When did you do that?
Me: *Trying really hard to remember what his face looked like last night*
*Flashback to last night – He came home around 8 PM and looked like he always does. He went to the master bathroom where he stayed for quite a while. (I assumed he needed some privacy because his sister’s friend was at the house or he got distracted watching a video about Fortnight.) He reemerged to ask for food then took a shower. The water for the shower didn’t start for a long time. I was tired and didn’t want to wait up for him since he was taking forever, so I decided to get ready for bed. I wanted to check on him one more time before going to sleep. As I walked toward his room, he walked down the hall with a towel draped over his head and hugged me. That was completely unexpected but I seized the opportunity to squeeze my not-so-little boy. With that, I went to bed. *
Me: Did you use (stepdad’s) razor?
Me: *lightbulb comes on over my head*
It all makes sense now! That’s what you were doing in our bathroom for so long last night! That’s why you didn’t start the shower for a long time, you were admiring your cleanly shaven face! That’s why you hugged me before bed, so I wouldn’t notice and ask you about it! Distract mom with a hug. Well played, young man. Well played.
Me: You know he’s got an electric razor for you when you’re ready. It’s under the sink and we can put it in your bathroom.
Kid: OK… Can we leave now?
Me: *Wanting to ask 8 million questions and have a meaningful conversation about his journey to manhood but realizing that’s not how he works.* Sure. We can leave. Get your bag.
I guess this is how the rest of our important growth experiences will happen. He makes a move when I’m not looking and I have a split second to respond. You’d think I would get it by now. The most effective parenting method for this kid has always been to give him space and accept that he will grow and develop in his own time and when he’s good and ready. He’s listening. He gets it. He just doesn’t want to yet.
I plan to hang in there and navigate this phase of life alongside him. Maybe during these teenage years I’ll figure out how to balance all the things I want to say with the amount of information he’s willing to receive at any one time. Maybe I’ll stop trying so hard to be involved at every tiny step along the way and trust that he can do it. Maybe I should just enjoy looking at his sweet, not hairy face.
He shaved once but there’s no guarantee it will happen again!