We are embarking on the next phase in our parenting journey… our oldest son is thirteen years old tomorrow! At 6:09 a.m. on October 13, 2005, we welcomed our ridiculously large child into our arms – we could almost say his enormous size was indicative of how much our hearts expanded in love. At 38 weeks, measuring 11lbs, 7oz weight, 24.8 inches in length, and a head circumference of 14.9 inches, we were grateful for a c-section (post delivery.)
Kaleb’s delivery story began with an unexpected visit to the Labour & Delivery ward after a sudden drop in blood sugar and extreme nausea in Mom the day before his birth. This was one of the warning signs we were asked to watch for in our high risk pregnancy towards the end of term. Tests were ordered, I was examined, and we proceeded with our scheduled BPP. Fortunately, our actual Ob-Gyn was on call that day and he stuck around for much longer than most doctors would to ensure he was on hand to make decisions for our care. Shortly after our first battery of tests, it was decided we would induce to reduce risks for Kaleb.
I happily proceeded throughout the day with mild, yet regular contractions. We sat in the early labour stage for a very long time. We moved from early labour to active labour… and waited… and waited…and waited. Contractions grew crazy intense, but I wasn’t dilating like I should have. I kept being told “you’ll be pushing soon!” and after every exam they’d announce with surprise that although my contractions were strong, frequent, and long, my cervix wasn’t cooperating. I was miserable overnight and still have regrets over some of the comments I made to people! Just around the 6am mark (after 19 hours in hospital) a nurse checked in, our doctor was called urgently, and suddenly I was being rushed out of the room without any real knowledge about what was going on. (Apparently I was heading to the OR for emergency C-section.) Kaleb, while responsive during most of labour, was suddenly in distress and they were concerned as his heart rate was dropping during contractions rather than elevating as they should have. The kid gave us a scare!
Fortunately, medical intervention and our amazing care team ensured a healthy delivery and we were blessed with amazing after care as well. I will admit that I do not remember most of his first hours of life due to the effects of the anesthetic and pain meds. I have funny snapshots, but no clear memories. (Someone grabbing my breast, my parents crying, laughter in the recovery room, ceiling lights, and being transferred from a ward unit to a private suite. (Worth the upgrade!)
This child of ours was a fighter from the beginning. A little stubborn. Incredibly adorable. Smiles that could melt your heart. In thirteen years, not much has changed. He’s still a fighter (not in a bad way, but if he is faced with an obstacle, he’s determined.) He’s still stubborn. You will not change his mind once it’s been made up. He’s adorable (but don’t tell him that!) His smiles still melt my heart (they’re a little further apart these days, but the genuine ones can light up a room!)
His laughter as a little guy would bubble up and overflow. He was mischievous. He talked with funny little mispronunciations. He was a monkey – climbing on, and up, and over everything. He was intelligent (and still is!) He never took to sports. He never took to books.
Today, his personality has changed but I have glimpses of the little boy he used to be and can see shadows of the man he’ll become. He’s strong and silent. He’s kindhearted and sincere. He’s logical and sensible. He’s a thinker. He likes control and routine. He likes things to be right and doesn’t like to make mistakes. He’s happier at home than out and about. He can argue like there’s a reward for it. He can bicker ’til I want to pull out my hair. He has a few close friends, but is friendly with everyone. He doesn’t feel the need to be popular. He will not be pushed around (thank goodness!) but he’s respectful even in his differences of opinions (with everyone but family, at least.) He skates by in school, but maintains As & Bs. He’s well on the way to being a successful, amazing adult.
As he goes through his teenage years there are things I want him to know – shared below in no particular order..
1) We are your parents first. We are your friends second. Those positions many times will overlap, but often our decisions as parents will make it seem like we’re not friends. We want what’s best for you, even when it seems like we’re being difficult.
2) We are always here to listen. You may not like our initial response, but I pray that we learn to temper our conversations with wisdom and grace. I pray that you come to us with problems big and small. I pray that even in the midst of mistakes, you know that we are here for you.
3) Remember your manners. Hormones might make you moody. Life can be tough. You still have a responsibility to treat people with kindness and respect. Please and thank you go a long way. Open doors for people. Offer a hand when someone is struggling. Take your hat off in restaurants and in church. Answer questions politely.
4) Be kind. Don’t judge. You don’t know what anyone else is going through and you cannot control other people’s words or actions. You can control how you handle a situation. Don’t gossip. Don’t lie. Don’t speak out of turn. Don’t bully. Look for ways to offer a hand or brighten someone’s day. Even when you disagree with someone, let kindness be your model.
5) Pray. Pray with gratefulness when you’re happy. Pray for strength when things are rough. Pray for wisdom as you tackle life. Pray for friends who will lift you up and encourage you. Pray for mercy when you make mistakes. Pray for opportunities to share God’s love.
6) Choose your friends wisely. You are the company you keep. If your friends are always getting into trouble, you probably will too. It’s harder to stand up for your convictions if everyone around you is doing the opposite. Be friendly to everyone, but remember that you don’t need to be best friends with everyone you meet. Guard your heart, but be loving. Be the friend that you want your friends to be.
7) Learn some Scriptures. Cling to them. There are verses to help you through every single thing you face. Feeling overwhelmed? Find a verse for that. Feeling lonely? Find a verse for that. Fighting anger? Find a verse for that. Feeling worried? Find a verse for that. Meditate on them. Let them be a foundation for every day life.
8) Get off the computer. Seriously. Don’t let technology consume you. Get outside. Read a book. Go for a walk. Lie in the sun. Play a boardgame. Throw a ball for the dog. Go fishing. Talk to people in person. Use technology as a tool, as an escape, but DO NOT let it be everything.
9) Be generous. Share. Share your time. Share your smiles. Share your lunch. If you have more and you can help, just do it. Don’t be selfish.
10) Be wise. Save your money. Spend it carefully. Think before you act. Think before you speak. Listen. Learn. Weigh your decisions. Stand for your beliefs. Don’t be talked into a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Avoid situations that can be used against you. Protect yourself.
Enjoy the next few years, honey. As you transition from boy-child to adulthood, I know that things won’t always be easy. I know that a lot of changes will happen over the next few years. Regardless of what your teenage years look like, know that we love you! You are our sunshine on a cloudy day.