My son starts high school next year and, at the risk of sounding dramatic, it feels like I’m sending a lamb to the slaughter.
I know “10 is the new 13” but even now at the age of 12, they still seem so young and innocent. Well, at least my son does.
It’s such an awkward age. Hormones are kicking in and friendship dynamics are shifting – with other boys, as well as with girls.
On top of these things high school brings the worry of bullying, academic pressure and exposure to influences beyond parental control. Not to mention all the pitfalls of the digital space and social media.
As a mother you wish you could protect your child forever and make a clear path for them into adulthood. But at some point they will have to find their own way. Our job is to prepare them for this point, which is why I wrote my boy this letter:
I know this year has been hard for you.
Things are beginning to change and you don’t feel ready. You are heading off to high school next year which is a very daunting prospect.
Meanwhile, your body is changing and your emotions are on spin cycle. You alternate between wanting to be a grown up and wanting to be a little kid. Your self confidence gets shaken daily. You don’t know who you are or who you want to be.
I’ve got some bad news for you: It is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
There will be even more changes in the next couple of years. You’ll meet new people and be exposed to new things – some good, some bad. Friendships will change and challenge you. You will get hurt and feel like you’ll never recover, but you will. Academically, you will be pushed like never before and some days (most days) you will question what it’s all for. You will want to give up but those who love you will rally to keep you going.
All of this will continue to shape who you are.
But I’ll let you into a little secret: You have control over who you become.
While it feels like you don’t have much say in what’s going on right now, the type of man you become is not just a matter of fate. It is very much in your hands. It is simply about the choices you make.
Choose the pursuits and people you want to invest your energy in.
Choose to question the things that don’t add up.
Choose what matters to you and honour it.
Choose what values to uphold and live by them.
These are things that will shape who you become.
Some of those choices will come easily to you, while some will be harder. But I know, with your huge heart, strong sense of justice and determination to do well, you will prevail.
My sweet son, I wish I could spare you the bittersweet pain of the teenage years, but I can’t. And no matter how much I want to, I won’t be able to protect you from everything. But I do promise you that I will be there every single step of the way, cheering you on and picking you up when you stumble.
I have complete confidence in the beautiful boy you are now and the amazing man you will become.
All my love,