We were sitting on the plane on our way to Paris and Louis was grinning from ear to ear when he was presented with a kid’s meal when dinner was served. I’m not sure why I even ordered it for him, I guess because I could. Many typical 12 year olds wouldn’t be that excited for the silly toy and applesauce. But Louis was.
The age of 12 is such an emotional intersection for kid. Part child, part adolescent, part teenager. While Louis is intellectually not typical to his peers, in so many ways he is typical. In Paris he was excited to see the lighted sign for a Tony Hawk exhibition. In Normandy he was fascinated with the tribute to American and Canadian soldiers and learned about the war. At the art museums he was patient and picked out his favorite paintings. At the Eiffel tower he was in awe and checked out the construction of the structure and didn’t complain after climbing many, many steps. At the Anne Frank house he kept asking why she had to stay in the room for two years. Yet during all that he had a name tag on a Spongebob Square Pants cord with our name and phone number in the event that he was to get lost and not be able to communicate how to find us.
Louis is getting older and I’m part excited and part panicked. He was a great traveler and it occurred to me on this trip that for Paul and I to travel as we get older, Louis will most likely to be with us. That’s okay. Yet I’m also panicked for the young man part and the typical challenges of raising a pre teenage boy. He’s found a new fascination and annoyance with his penis. When he was a chubby little boy it was well, stuck in the shell as Paul said. “The turtle is coming out of the shell now,” he said a couple of weeks ago when the teacher called me at home to have me talk to him about the appropriateness of touching it during class. Fortunately it was from the outside. A few days before that he had been complaining that it was hurting and they called from school too. I had to explain that he has suddenly…well….emerged and we are working on it.
I can’t even imagine what lies ahead when it comes to this subject. I mentioned to Paul that hey, I handled Danielle’s "emergence" (and teenage emergencies) and he’s going to have to handle this department. I’m a patient mom, but not that patient. I’d rather be the turtle and hide in my shell.
originally written 29 November 2009