Remember being on the cusp of 13? I remember. Grade 7 and the first peek at being a teenager. First year in a new school. Lockers. Walking the hallway between classes. Real sports teams. More than one teacher. Crushes and note passing. Wishing mom would buy me the cool clothes like the cool kids. Wishing I was pretty. That I would grow boobs. That a boy would ask me to dance.
I was a sad thirteen year old. No particular reason I could put my finger on then, but likely the last three things on that list had alot to do with it. It was a big deal being in grade 7, on the verge of teenhood. As if I didn't get it right in that first year, the next 6 years would be ruined. I never was a social butterfly, always awkward and with few close friends I trusted. Watching the other girls trying to learn how to fit in, how to get a boy to like me, how to be. Then failing miserably at it. Like vultures, the other girls would swoop in at the scent of my weakness and pick at me until I bled. I did well in sports, I was strong, did well in school and oddly enough never had a real issue with self esteem. I found I was no comelian, but I was great at building thick skin and had attitude to spare to fend off the vultures. Who eventually left me be. But thirteen was hard. Lonely. And it did shape the rest of my teenage years. Luckily they only lasted 6 more.
Now, looking back, that year really had little impact on my current self. A blip on my radar that I can on remember bits and pieces of. Insignificant in the long run. (All though I still don't like girls. They're just mean at that age.) But all in all the worries I had then were a light load to the realities of life. I seem Herculean now in comparison for what I carry on my shoulders each day.
Reiley is there in those shoes. He'll be thirteen in another month. As a parent I see my boy, not a teenager, not the same boys I remember, that I had crushes on back then. He somehow seems younger than I was then. Reiley is socially very strong. He has lots of friends, girls crowding together when they see him and giggling and running off when he smiles their way. He's well balanced, funny and treats people nicely. With him, I don't worry about the things that I had trouble with back then. School however, is hard. Very hard for him. He has a learning disability which affects more than just his spelling. I see it in his organization and his ability to plan. Keeping up with homework and projects and making sure he brings the right books home is a challenge. All he wishes for is to have it easy like his friends, to slide through school, to just get it.
I forget how huge this year is in his life. What is feels like from the perspective of a kid on the brink of teen. I talk with him and lift the load from his shoulders to mine, and then I remember. I feel how heavy it is. But it too, will only be a blip on his radar in 18 years.