friends don’t let friends become stage moms

I have a confession:

I’m struggling with this motherhood thing.

So this time, it’s about my oldest. The sweet one. The quiet one. The one who has always had a huge heart and done the right thing. The one who was reading at age 4 and adding huge strings of numbers together in his head while riding in his carseat at age 5. The one who gets perfect scores on his ISTEP tests and hasn’t gotten anything less than an A on a report card yet. The overachiever. The one who outsmarted his mom years ago.

God, I love this kid. He’s amazing and lovable and adorable and smart and funny and talented and he has huge, knobby knees sticking out of his legs. Just like mom did at his age.

But now … now things are changing.

He’s 13.

He’s started rolling his eyes and huffing under his breath.

And he has a girlfriend.

And he’s more interested in texting and playing video games than he is in doing anything productive. I can’t tell you the last book he read. And he was always such a big reader.

This is where I struggle. I have heard about and read some very interesting stories lately about parents who are hiring consultants to help get their kids into college. I was appalled by this, to be honest. I have so many opinions about this topic, it’s hard to know where to begin. But the bottom line, in my opinion, is this: if a kid doesn’t show determination and motivation to do well enough in school, mom and dad shouldn’t try to hire and pay their kid’s way into college. But unfortunately, folks, that’s happening. Money sometimes does buy everything. Except the kid’s happiness, of course.

So this is where Grant comes in. Or, really, me (and his dad).

What do we do to help motivate our highly intelligent son who still claims he wants to work for NASA someday? And is it wrong and bullying of me to tell him over and over that I don’t think he’s really serious about working for NASA IF HE DOESN’T EVEN WANT TO READ A BOOK ABOUT GENE KRANZ?? Christ. Does he even know who Gene Kranz is? (forehead: meet table.) I was so excited when I thought of the perfect gift to give him the night he was inducted into the National Jr. Honor Society. I got him a copy of Rocket Boys, the true story of Homer Hickam, Jr., and his determination to become what? A NASA engineer. Grant loves the movie. (Another problem, since now he knows the story … what’s the point, mom?)

So. Reality check. DO I WANT TO WORK FOR NASA?

um ……

No.

Really, though. Do I push and push and try to get him to care more? To show some motivation and determination? Do I keep beating it into his head that “I knew what I wanted to do when I was your age and already had a paying job at The New Castle News, writing stories and taking pictures”? Do I become a shitty stage mom, pushing, pushing, pushing until he doesn’t want ANYTHING to do with being an engineer at NASA, or anywhere, for that matter?

We’ve had this thing in common now for a few years, how he already seemed to know what he wanted to be. Others will say that’s nuts, but I know it can be true. It happened to me. I figured maybe it could happen to him, too. But how hard should I push it? Dropping books and movies and visits to air and space museums doesn’t seem to spark anything more than a smile here and there and a little bit of excitement. Texts from his girlfriend do the same damn thing.

I’m not a stage mom. I can only keep trying to get his nose out of electronics and back into books. I can only keep getting excited myself when he brings home great grades or signs up for yet another robotics or science class, with the same declaration: I want to be a NASA engineer when I grow up.

I’m now looking (again) at costs for space camp. If he doesn’t want to go, I will.

Which begs the following questions:

Am I jealous of his attention to the new girl in his life? I don’t think so … ??

Is he only sticking with the whole NASA thing because it excites ME? Has he really moved on to other ideas and is scared to come clean about it? Because he doesn’t seem the type to hide something like that, but, I suppose becoming a teen brings changes. Maybe he’s just confused by all those changes.

I know he’s a smart kid and he will find what he wants. He’s ONLY 13, after all. But still. This is the time things start heating up at school and getting more serious. I’m not going to push him, like other parents apparently are, to start his own charity. I can’t do the crazy things these parents are doing. If it works for them and their kids, fine. But it’s too much pressure. For me and him.

I’m just asking that he be honest with me and himself about his goals and dreams so I can be there for him every step of the way. NOT as a stage mom, but as an understanding and caring mom who will back his decisions.

I want him to stay on the right path. I really do. I just don’t want to veer off of mine to get him back on his.

Any advice would be awesome.

13 is hard.

40 apparently still is, too.

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