Todd and I went to the mall recently.
Why does anyone go to the mall anymore? Going to the mall was our true mistake.
We were waiting in line for our fresh and delicious Auntie Anne's pretzels (this is not a plug, but for real, you guys, Auntie Anne's is legit), and we stood behind a handful of teenage boys. It terrified me. And not just in a dramatic, TEENAGERS ARE SCARY kind of way. In a very real, very visceral way.
I am so scared to have a teenage son.
Those boys -- the ones at the mall -- were horrifying to me. Loud, rude. They looked troublesome and mean. I thought of the boys in high school who would mouth off to the teachers and bully the other boys who weren't as "macho." The boys in elementary school who would be intentionally cruel to the girls (raises hand), and who probably grew up to be Harvey fucking Weinstein.
Teenage girls scare me, too, but I just had a baby boy. I have a son. I love him so much. Having a baby is a joy I never, ever expected. I thrive on this baby.
But I am suddenly terrified of having a child. The baby who grows up to become a teenager. I am terrified of the moment he no longer needs me. When he will no longer fit in the crook of my neck. When I am no longer, quite literally, his lifeline.
Of course I want him to grow up and thrive and become the very best human he can be. But, if I'm being honest, I'm so very scared of who that human could be. I want him to be a wonderful, gentle child, a smart and kind teenager, and an empathetic and strong man. I want him to be healthy. Those are my hopes for him.
But what about those teenagers at the mall? I think of nature versus nurture. Does it matter? If Todd and I create a home of love and kindness, and raise him to be the absolute best version of himself he can, if we show him the importance of family and strong values, does it make a difference?
Just because we are good people, does that mean he will grow up to be a good person, too?
In my mind, of course he will be a good person! He's my baby! He is already the very best person. But the world is so fraught with misfortune right now. Children grow up in a different world than Todd and I. Kids have access to a planet of technology that shows them the horrors of the world in real time. Bullying can come at teenagers from every possible angle through every possible medium. We certainly can't protect him forever, and we can't do much more than steer him in the best direction.
That is terrifying.
Also children are scary, okay? Teenagers are scarier.
The boys who threw dog poop at the girls on the playground in elementary school, surely someone loved them, too. They likely had mothers and fathers who hoped for the best. You guys, I don't want the dog poop boy. And I don't want him to be dog pooped.
How do I protect my child from the proverbial dog poop?
Becoming someone's mom is wild. There is an entire person who grew inside my body. He's here now, and he's so tiny and delicate. He fits in one arm and recognizes my voice. His smile makes my insides ache, and making eye contact is a connection like steel. He sees me. He knows me. I love him. I love him as a tiny baby. I love the sounds he makes. I love that he is little.
I love that right now he is not a teenage boy who is mean to girls or bullies the boys or disrespects his mother or yells at his father or brings home mean girls or hangs out with bad boys.
Right now he throws dog poop at no one.
I would like to keep him that way.
Stay good, my sweet potato. We will try our best for you.