The Summer of Sorry.


I’ve been writing a little about the subtle and not-so-subtle changes in my son who is heading to Middle School in two short months. Having a soon-to-be 8th grade daughter, I kind of know what to expect. Mood swings, not wanting to be around family as much, and thinking they just need two things in life: a bed and a phone.  Ethan however, is proving to be a little different. Some of which can be attributed to the fact that he is a boy, but mostly because he is a different kid than Ella.

Like most kids his age, Ethan’s phone has launched him into the world of independence. He’s beginning to plan his own social events. Even texting a friend’s parents asking their opinion about a long board that he was wanting to purchase. The phone automatically puts these kids in a place that makes them feel like they’re capable of doing almost anything on their own. But there are two problems: a) they can’t drive b) they only have enough cash to get ten jolly ranchers. That’s limiting.

I remember the day after my daughter got her phone. She had just turned 11. Her dad and I were sitting in the living room talking when Ella whips around the corner with her little purse over her shoulder and said, “I’m walking  to University Village with Gabrielle and will be back later.” Not only had she never been to the mall on her own, but she had never walked down by herself. And on top of that, she didn’t even think she needed to ask us. I tried not to laugh and asked if she could drive me to the store after she got back.

Luckily for Ethan, he has Ella’s past experiences guiding him on what not to do. He knows to talk to me before he makes plans. But as we all know, an eleven year old boy’s thought process is less than complete. He’ll text his friend’s mom, leaving out major details. When I ask him questions (like how are you getting there and when are you meeting) he replies with, “Don’t worry, I’ve already coordinated that with Ben’s mom.” Translation: “Can Ben hang out today?” Ben’s mom texts back: “Yes.”  Done deal. His day is set. Just gotta get his shoes on and everything else will fall into place.
So ya, change is happening. These little people are getting bigger, older and are a bit wiser. We’re one month into Summer and I somehow have two tween/teens at home. Both with phones. I’m experiencing some attitude. From both kids. Gone are the “oh that makes sense” tantrums from being hungry or overtired. I’m now getting emotional chaos from….I dunno. Really, I have no clue.  It’s a mystery – even for my kids.  I feel like I am on that rollercoaster at California Adventure that scares the crap out of you at every turn. I see us slowly creeping up to the top of the roller coaster hill of emotions and so don’t want to go down. But we have to. And we do. We’re relieved when it’s over. Gone are the days of kiddie rides. We’re now all in for the 4’ and over rides. The scary, exhilarating and crazy ones.

But at California Adventure you don’t receive notes at the end of your ride. When you’re on a Carty Adventure ride, you do. So far this Summer, I’ve received three notes from Ethan. All written on little scraps of paper. “Mom, I’m sorry I acted like a complete toddler when you asked me to read. I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I know this sounds like an excuse, but it isn’t. I’m sorry. Love, Ethan.”

I have these notes on my desk. They make me laugh. These notes are a reminder of how quickly these kids are changing. They are starting to realize their actions do impact others.  I have a feeling my “I’m Sorry” collection of notes will grow over the next few years.

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