You know the day is coming, you prep for it and then when it does there is a small, gut punch reaction that you cover with a smile. You nod and agree as if you too were on board with the decision.
I am talking about the first time your child becomes a teenager and they get the option to have you leave the room when having their annual physical.
I get it, I have boys, he wants "privacy" but this is important stuff, what if the doctor asks a question I need to know the answer to? What if he tells the doctor something he has not shared with me? What if, what if, what if???? "Please step outside"...hell them's fighting words where I grew up, ok minus the please, but you get the idea.
Of course I smiled and said "sure makes sense" and sat outside and hugged his not yet teenage brother who I had been in the room with, who had no objections to me being there. The waiting room !!! What was I waiting for him to come out a kid again, the one that dealt with shots because I taught him that a pinch was bad but getting the disease was worse. Oh the waiting was going to kill me.
I consider that I have great relationships with my sons. They tell me things, we discuss, I advise, I understand that I do not know it all. Yet here was proof, he was growing up, growing apart, getting rights.
It is the right thing to do, to allow teenagers time with their doctors. To give them a place to speak of things that they may not be able to in some cases with some parents, to give them a platform for kids whose parents may not want to talk about. If there was a real issue, you bet I researched, yes they would have told me. Unless you are the issue but that's a whole different story.
What's hard about that is that it opens up all those things you fear for your kids. Things that they will be exposed to, have to make decisions about, be pressured on.
There will be drugs, they are cheap and deadlier than ever, now in their growing social sphere. You may read that and think not in mine but there was an epidemic of crack when I was growing up, then it was meth, now it's opioids. It is always out there and the only thing the "war" on drugs did was to make it difficult for police to be police and instead now they are in a "war zone".
There will be smoking or vaping and these are both awful for their health with long term implications.
There will be drinking and potential for addiction and poor decisions from it.
There is consent about sex, there are STDs and there is the world at large which is scary.
We may be uncomfortable but we need to have these talks with kids in ways that they hear us, in their language without fanciful stories because the reality is frightening enough. We need to give them tools to walk away when we all know that at these ages it is so important to "fit in" for them.
So how am I supoosed to "please step outside" when my baby ... oh wait he is not my "baby" even though that he will always be. He is my teenager who I have loved and tried to instill self worth in. The boy on his way to becoming a man who I have talked about all of these things with and who talks to me about them. He has his secrets, he stumbles but he still talks to me and I am never "outside" for him because I have learned when to lean in and when to let him pull me in. Even when that is uncomfortable for me. I will stomp in if necessary.
I stepped outside and reluctantly acknowledged that he is growing up, that he is gaining independence and that he needs this space.
He came out and told me all about it, we had a chuckle over some of the language used and he thought it was a miss that the doctor didn't ask him about vaping, which he doesn't do but knows many who do.
Please step outside ... and this big, scary world is yours to conquer and make better, it is full of dangers and even more full of potential - that is what I hope my sons learn from that saying.