I’ve heard that the first kid is like the first pancake. If you’ve ever made pancakes, you know what I mean. There is much experimentation with the first pancake – you have to mess with the batter a bit, it’s too lumpy, then it’s too loose. The pan is too hot and the pancake starts to burn and stick, then you dial it back and it takes forever to cook through. It’s obviously your first one, not the result of years of practice.
This is true.
Our first pancake was born about 2 1/2 years into our wedded bliss.
He was a sweet little bundle of boy with dark soulful eyes and a full head of crazy dark brown hair. Even from the first hours, he was pensive and loyal and deliberate. He was a deep thinker and he operated on his schedule – without much of a care for what that did to his parents’ plans. We were green. Our combined runs at perfectionism ended (abruptly) in the emergency room of the hospital, in tears when our baby took charge of our family and went on a 36-hour sleep strike. We decided right then that we were failing at this parenthood thing.
Simon Peter made it through his first days and weeks and now nearly fourteen years, alive. He’s a great kid. In fact, he was such a great kid that in spite of our better judgment, we tried again and again and ended up with two more kiddos in the Grills household. [left to right: Jonah (11), Anna (4) and Simon (14 next month)]
In a lot of ways he’s been deceptively easy to parent – a firstborn pleaser, he truly wants to do the right thing, the responsible thing. Although he has his moments, he’s been an overall really good kid. In fact, his temperament set us up for a couple of serious fails with the subsequent children who feels things much deeper and bigger and are not as eager to go with the flow. (We’ve since developed a sense of humor about this.)
So why the walk down Parenting Lane? It’s not like it’s his birthday or anything.
Tonight I will go to the high school for the first time for something other than Jonah’s junior basketball league. I will be attending a meeting for the parents of incoming freshmen. Now that we’re well into the second semester of eighth grade, now that we parents are adjusted to leaving our “student” at football games and acting like it’s no big deal that he attends after-school dances and co-ed events, the powers that be have decided that it’s time to jiggle the snowglobe and give us a little something new to think about – high school. Tonight I will try to put aside all the disorienting emotions of “how on EARTH can our child be old enough to be choosing courses based on career preferences?”. Tonight I will listen and take notes and punch down the urge to take him out of school and move to some remote area and pretend like we’re from times gone by while homeschooling and teaching him farming so he can never leave home.
These are the irrational thoughts of a girl who doesn’t feel like she’s nearly 39 years old, with a 16+ year marriage, 3 kids and a mortgage to call her own. I thought I’d feel more ready and mature when these days would come. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for him. All the days that he’ll reminisce about are yet to come – first date, driver’s license, prom and graduation. We’ve still got so ahead of us, but so little time left with him.
As his parents, we’ll learn to navigate the tough decisions and the discipline and the lessons and the giving of freedoms.
As our kid, we still have hopes that he’ll learn to pick up his dirty socks and do his chores without prompting and that he’ll realize the importance of doing his best all the time, and not just on tests.
As a family, we’ll learn how to time this first pancake – to best determine when he’s done and ready to be flipped out into the world. And maybe the other two pancakes will benefit, just a little, from the experience.