I watched my oldest son Brad on the playground this past weekend. He’s nine, and is just beginning to enter that insanity that is puberty. Thankfully he’s got a ways to go, but little glimpses of what is to come occur entirely too often these days.
We were at Scott’s (my middle son) and I was entertaining Jay (the youngest) at the playground. Brad had climbed on top of the jungle gym (are they still called that?) like the alpha-male he tries to be. I noticed a posture that seemed an attempt at cool – and then I realized why.
Her name was Regan. They were both participating in some pre-adolescent flirting that was amazing to watch. I couldn’t help but be proud – she was a cute girl. I gave them some space and Jay and I returned to the soccer game, mentioning to Anne and even the girl’s mom to watch the two of them.
They explored the playground together. They walked around the greenway, just spending time together, and they were inseparable.
It was one of those moments that really moved me. Brad and I are very alike in many ways – it’s scary how similar we are. He’s the oldest son (as am I), he has some attention issues that make it pretty clear it’s a genetic thing (and not from his mother’s side of the family), a love of music, and beneath all the bluster, he’s got a great heart. A heart that sets a standard for me to achieve.
After the game, I noticed Brad and his mother having a hushed conversation. Later, under the strictest of confidence, I was informed that Brad had declared his love for Regan, and that he thinks she loves him back. He told his mother “She likes to climb, and so do I” and that when she was resistant to going back to watch the soccer game, he turned to walk back to the field, and she followed him.
I’ve gotten to relive many things because of my parenthood, and this one is a biggie. I remember as a “pre-teen” and teen the joys and pains of love and perceived love. I remember the crushes, the unrequited loves, and the girls that didn’t know that I existed. I remember the excitement of a new relationship, and relationships that began and ended all to quickly. I look forward to those things for Brad – the joys most, but the pains too knowing that he will learn from them as well.
It will be interesting to see if he is concerned about what he’s wearing to this Saturday’s game, or if he has moved on to other things. I’m not sure which I hope for.