Getting What You Wish For
Last week I attended the monthly Parents Association meeting at Cameron’s school. As Cameron’s school serves grades Pre-K through 12, there is a wide range of stages of parenting within the community. Among the participants of last week’s meeting were a few eighth-grade parents, and there was much discussion about the transition to high school. I was attempting to assuage their fears, claiming that aside from climbing a flight of stairs, there wasn’t much difference between the middle school and the high school. In response to my claim, one of the moms said to me, “But there’s all kinds of PDA going on in the hallways up there!” (Just in case you fear that you’ve missed out on some new therapy, PDA stands for Public Display of Affection.)
At last month’s Family Fiesta Night, this concerned mom had been in charge of monitoring the courtyard where the high schoolers tend to congregate at these school-wide events. She was shocked at the amount of appropriate male/female contact she was required to enforce that evening. Another mom at the meeting was struggling with managing her eighth-grade daughter’s relationship with a ninth-grade boy.
So of course—me being the compassionate, sympathetic person that I am—my response to these fretful parents was, “So after all these years of spending energy and money on developing age-appropriate social skills, now that your children are actually exhibiting typical teenage behavior, you want them to stop?”
Now, I’m no proponent of free-range hormones in the school hallways, but this is the kind of problem I would LOVE to have. Cameron has never really bonded with any of his peer group, male or female. My attempts in setting up play dates when he was younger never really seemed to hit the mark. Cameron can go through the motions and behave appropriately, but hanging out with the guys has never really been his thing. Could I have done more in terms of his social development? Probably. But it’s such a double-edged sword when you try to forge relationships among kids with similar social challenges. Let’s just say Cameron had a clone, for instance. The two of them would never hit it off because they would drive each other crazy. And while I’m sure Cameron loves the idea of having a girlfriend, the implementation of that idea is still several stations away, I’m afraid.
I would imagine that the idea of romantic relationships strikes a chord of fear among most parents of adolescents, regardless of the adolescents’ learning profiles. There are so many “typical” worries parents have at this age that I have considered myself lucky not to have to endure. I don’t worry about Cameron coming home drunk or stoned. I’m not worried about Cameron hanging out with the wrong crowd. And I’m not concerned that Cameron is being distracted by a romantic relationship. But if any of these issues did become concerns, I might just be secretly happy about it. Anything “typical” is a bonus, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll take “typical” parental concerns any day.