In the couple of weeks since school began, I've been approached by several parents approach me to tell me how handsome my oldest son got over the course of the year. It's a weird feeling; on one hand, I'm rather proud, because he is adorable (adorkable as I tell him since he's a cute as he is dorky, at least at home), and on the other, I'm kind of scared that this is going to go to head or interrupt his studies. Tween boys are not the easiest creatures to guide through any task or situation, because they are rather mercurial and easily distracted by nature.
I want my son to be liked, to be able to deal with his love life as it develops, and I want him to be the best person he can be. I want him to love himself, to love the world and to find someone to love for the rest of his life. I'm also afraid that the focus on his physical beauty will interfere with people getting to know this smart, loving, quirky person that I've been raising. I'm afraid that he won't handle himself well if people are too interested in his shell. He's always been a bit of a wild card; from moment to moment you never know what will catch his attention, and he likes to do his own thing. He also yearns to be accepted, socially, in ways he hasn't yet experienced. This year, his interactions with his peers have changed drastically. He finally found a group of boys with whom he can relate and play with, but the girls have also decided to pay him attention , in frequently immature and strange ways. He doesn't really know what to do with any of his peers. As much as my husband and I try to help him navigate the changing world of his relationships, he has to do it alone.
One thing I've learned about motherhood is this: your fondest dreams for your children are also sometimes the things that make you worry most about them. The things that you love most about your children are also the things that will not necessarily be their favorite things about themselves. All we can do is to watch, to be there for them, to try to teach them to make good choices, and to worry in private about them while applauding their attempts to accomplish things.