Monday, October 19, 2015

Parenting 11-Year-Old: The Distance

I remember a few years ago, I would remind myself that one day, my boy would no longer want to hold my hands when he walks next to me. He would feel uncomfortable to be seen holding my hands and he probably would also feel awkward to utter 'I love you, Mama'.

That should be the mark of a new phase of his development.

When M was just 5 years old, a friend who had older boys once urged me to cherish the affection I had from my son then because the years would fly by and by the time the kids were 10 or 11, they would utter 'I hate you' faster than I could hug them.

Wow! I admit I did not quite believe him, thinking over-confidently that perhaps this had to do with the parent's relationship with the kids too.

Well, sadly, such days have arrived.

I do not know when exactly did they arrive, but a few weeks ago, I was pondering the factors that could be causing the strain in my relationship with my first-born and how much he has changed, that it struck me.

He does not hold my hands when he walks next to me anymore.

He no longer hugs me before going to bed, unless I insist on one or go hug him first.

He does not kiss me on my cheeks voluntarily for so long that I cannot even remember when he stopped doing that.

He does not say 'I love you' voluntarily, and even after I said 'I love you' to him, he does not reciprocate. Occasionally, I would hear a 'mmm' and he would just be looking in another direction as he uttered it.

When he gets out of the car, he does not say 'Bye Mummy'. After I complained one day that he is taking me for granted and too lazy to even say 'bye bye', he mumbled a quick 'bye' for the subsequent few days, before reverting back to not saying anything.

It makes me sad and sometimes grumpy. No one wants to be taken for granted.

Of course, I don't think he does all these or not do any of these on purpose to spite me. So I am not angry with him. I tried to talk to him a few times, but there was just no progress. My boy, who used to be so eloquent and open about sharing his feelings with me, just shrugged his shoulders and gave me a blank look, followed by several 'I don't know' responses.

Though I understand this is a phase that all children will go through, I still dread it. A part of me wonder if there were things that I did wrong, or did not do as well as I should, that brought about such behaviour. Or perhaps it is just entirely normal development, like the infamous Terrible Two phase, and that soon, he will be out of this phase.

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