As my son gets older and older, I find that my parenting posts become less and less frequent. He’s 10 years old now. We’re beyond the cute stages. We’re beyond temper tantrums and diapers and late nights. But we’re beyond more than I thought I would be at this point.
Fourth grade has been a significant year for us, much like second grade and kindergarten were. It was one of the years that shaped me and that was something I told Evan over and over again. Fourth grade is an important year, especially if you find the right teacher.
This was the year that Evan found a teacher who was the right blend of saucy, sassy, and strict, exactly what he likes. It’s clear that she’s been teaching for decades and it’s clear that she’s well within reach of retirement. But it’s also clear that she continues to teach because she enjoys it. She’s truly in it for the kids and it’s made all the difference this year.
Evan’s teacher was the first one to appreciate his dark, brooding, and humorous sense of writing, encouraging his stories and recommending him for the Gifted & Talented program. With just this little bit of confidence, he’s really started to spread his wings in terms of independence and creativity. So much so, that he already has career aspirations. He wants to his own animation studio where he’ll create and animate all the weird and wild stories trapped in his brain.
At home, I’ve finally given in to his need to create through LEGO. Instead of sitting for hours and painstakingly putting together the most complex LEGO kits, he prefers to take pieces and parts, use unconventional LEGO tools like glue and Sharpies, and create the most unique characters and weapons and laboratories. Once I gave him permission to be free with his creativity, he turned off the video games and spends hours at his desk working on his creations.
But he’s definitely growing up. We don’t hesitate to watch PG-13 movies together but when we get to the sexy parts, it no longer goes totally over his head (thanks to his first year of sex ed). He goes to sleep by himself (I used to lay down with him every night). He stays home when I go to the grocery store. He sits in the front seat of the car. He sometimes cleans up without me even asking.
He’s acutely aware of social situations. He’s more open to playdates and loves to have family over. And he’s even contemplating his first sleepover. He also takes notice of social injustice. He tells me stories of girls bullying girls and how they’ve rallied around others to make them feel good. His teacher has even pulled me aside to tell me how much she sees and appreciate the kindness she sees in him.
These are all the things we want as parents. We want to raise smart, confident, caring kids. We just don’t want it to go so damn fast.
Fourth grade is the year that I’m starting to see the person that Evan will actually become. I’m trying hard to hold on to these last few months of elementary school before his friends start to play a bigger role than his parents. As my one and only, I want pull him into my arms and cradle him like a baby and never let him go. But with his height and weight about the same as mine, I’m acutely aware that I can’t really do that anymore.
As we head into summer, I plan to slow my workload and spend time enjoying summer vacation with him. The moments are fleeting but I plan to capture as many as I can, bottle them up, and hold them close to my heart.