Thursday, May 29, 2014


Growing Into Himself

The Boy turned 13 this week.  We officially have a teenager in the house.

Nothing really brings home the speed with which time passes than an adolescent boy in a growth spurt.  As of this week, he’s six feet tall, and wearing a size 13 shoe.  (I wear a 12; the shoe salesman helpfully told us that if the 13 feels tight, he could wear a 14 comfortably.)  He’s the kind of young-skinny that makes him invisible when he turns sideways, despite inhaling food at every opportunity.  Sometimes, on a quiet night, you can hear him growing.

He’s navigating junior high with far greater aplomb than I ever did. He’s tall, athletic, and handsome, so he gets to be relatively well-mannered without incurring the social cost that non-defiant young men otherwise incur.  At that age, that’s no small thing.  We’re encouraging him to go for the “gentleman” niche, since it’s pretty uncrowded.  (The “knucklehead” niche is already saturated.)  He has the instincts, and having a strong-willed younger sister has taught him not to get flustered when girls have minds of their own.  This is a valuable life skill.

Although the logistics can get tiring, it’s great fun watching him play baseball or basketball.  As a baseball player, he’s at his best as a crafty pitcher: average velocity, but enough technique to get inside hitters’ heads.  He told me recently that he realized that baseball is as much a psychological game as a physical one, which I thought was pretty good for a twelve year old.  Baseball was the only sport at which I ever showed anything resembling capability, so sometimes I play catcher for him in the backyard.  It can be humbling -- after one recent outing, when I stood up, he declared that “I can hear your knees from here” -- but it’s great fun.  He throws a devastating sinker that really does a number on overconfident young hitters, and he’s developing a knuckleball that -- when it works -- is spooky.  It has the same effect on hitters that the roadrunner has on the coyote.  

As a basketball player, he’s at his best on defense, playing center.  When he’s in the paint, none shall pass.  He simply takes away the center lane.  It took him a few years to get confident enough to really get in other players’ faces, but he’s there now.  I don’t know basketball from quidditch, but the games are always worthwhile.

Luckily for him, he inherited a visual sense from his mother’s side.  He plays Minecraft aggressively, and has been known to disappear for hours at a time with new Lego kits, only to emerge when they’re completely built.  (He did the entire London Bridge set single-handedly.)  From both of us, he got the writing gene.  Last year he wrote a multi-page manifesto explaining why he and TG should get more “tech time.”  It was so good that TG’s teacher actually used it in class.  The kid has chops.

It’s fun watching him grow into himself.  As he gets older, hints of his own style are emerging.  His sense of humor is his own, with an eye towards pranks that nobody else in the family has.  He’s a great student, with clear interests and tastes, and some serious ambition.  He’s the kid -- young man, really -- who voluntarily helps the older couple down the street shovel their driveway, and won’t accept anything more than a cup of hot chocolate for his troubles.  

Once when he was about three, he spent a long time helping to clean up the front yard.  When I told him he didn’t have to, he looked up and said earnestly “I want you to be proud of me.”

I am.  Welcome to the teen years, TB.  It’s an honor to have a front-row seat, watching a good man grow into himself.

If it makes you feel any less alone, I've been reading since TB was in second (? I think) grade. It's amazing that he's a teenager now, even to someone you've never met outside of the internet!

"We officially have a teenager in the house."

Congrats to TB, and may the next several years bring him many interesting adventures and experiences!
I can't even fathom being 6ft tall at 13. I was 4'11" at 13 and still am at 31. Sounds like you are raising one awesome kid.
Dammit, DD, you made me cry a little in my office this morning. I hope someday I can be as proud of my son as you are of yours.
Wonderful post for closing out the week. Thanks for sharing.
It is marvellous to see how well you know your kids and how dearly you love them. Thank you for sharing some of their awesomeness with us!
Congratulations to all of you, Dean Dad. I think you and TB have just made everyone's day.
Yes, we can tell you are bragging a bit, and yes, that is perfectly OK! What a great kid. I've read your blog for ages, and part of the fun of it has been that the Suburb Dad part of Dean Dad has always been a part of the blog.

By the way, i've heard mention of a recent push to promote safer pitching in youth leagues, something like "what you need to know to avoid Tommy John surgery". Look into it.
Ok srsly I have tears.

Lovely tribute to your son and his family.
My 15 year old stands 6'4" and sports size 16 feet. I certainly know what you're going through. Enjoy it!

And just a friendly word of wisdom: check out for big shoes. They carry a great selection in sizes 13-20, and they're a wonderful small business.
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