What I’m Learning About My Oldest Child
Last night, Jake (almost 11) asked if in the morning he could make us all breakfast. Of course, I said yes. So he got up, made bacon and pancakes, and thanked me for helping with dishes. This was a stark contrast in personality from last night when he didn’t want to speak to me. In all fairness, when I sit back and breathe I realize he had a big week. Lax practices, polar bear plunge for Special Olympics, a meeting at church, and his normal school schedule. And on top if it, he is my go-to for just about every time I need help.
Jake is the oldest. I’m the oldest and my husband was the oldest. We vowed never to make our oldest have as much responsibility as we had, but often, we find ourselves relying on him…sometimes a little too much.
He isn’t always happy to help but always complies. More often than not he’s feeding animals, doing chores, and keeping an eye on his brother and sister. He has started to love to “cook” and that has been a game-changer. Grilled cheeses and pancakes are his specialty and him making breakfast or lunch frees me up immensely. During my 75 hard round, he was my main source of encouragement and always helped with the younger two so I could get my workout in.
On top of this, Jake has the biggest heart of anyone I know. This causes him to wear emotions on his sleeves sometimes, and that can result in anger, frustration, and other big emotions. But, in all of his deep feelings, he cares so much about his family, friends, strangers, teammates, and animals.
If someone hurts one of his friends or teammates, he feels it. While it can be a source of hurt, Jake truly wants to be friends with everyone. He includes everyone and notices when others don’t do the same. He wants to save every homeless person we see in the city. He wants to cure every person that has cancer. In school, he wants to help everyone who struggles. On the field and in the rink, he loves helping the new kids learn the sport or the latest trick he found. I often wonder how heavy it is having such a big heart.
I would never want to be a preteen in this era. Two years of covid restrictions, social media, texting, a greater divide between the haves and have nots. It’s crazy how much we try to protect him by not having social media or a phone and yet, that isolates him more with his friend groups. These kids have more standardized tests in one year than we did in our whole school career. They have peers that are already thinking about playing sports in college. The pressure to grow up is everywhere. And somehow, Jake continues to stay true to himself. He is okay with being 10 (almost 11) and still has some of that little boy’s silliness and imagination. At the same time, he is growing so fast and taking on so many responsibilities.
I’m learning that while I’m often consumed by his preteen attitude and decision-making, I’m really not giving him enough credit. Jake is an amazing young man. Does he make mistakes? Yes. Does he drive me insane? Yes. Does he say the wrong things? Yes. But it’s my job to continue to make a better effort at praising him for what he does right and showing how appreciative I am of the young man he is becoming.