The other day I felt a bit frantic. Up until then, I hadn’t been freaking out about this transition. You have been cool about leaving elementary school and starting middle school so I thought I would join you. “This is not a big deal,” I agreed. You’re right. I figured I could just glide into this next phase with grace and aplomb.

But then you walked off to middle school all by yourself. I heard the sound of tires squealing as both grace and aplomb ditched me and panic pulled up.  I tried to grab you for a quick hug goodbye and squishy baby fat didn’t welcome my arms. Instead, they weirdly bounced off of a solid wall of muscle.

You are changing right now. Your energy is so hard to lose that you sometimes pace around our kitchen like a caged tiger ready to pounce. Your body has lost its slack and loops. You are a coil now.

I heard a workman in our yard the other day and I went to see who it was. It was you. Using your new voice to talk to your brother. I sometimes think a 50 year-old man has moved into your chest. Then, I am reminded it’s still you because you begin a sentence with the squeak of your kid voice before that old guy takes over.

You are getting quieter. That’s the one that hits me the hardest. You don’t invite me in to all of your thoughts. Most of the time, you choose silence. You guard your words carefully and share them with me only when you deem it worthwhile. I miss the open door policy you used to have. I could walk around your thoughts with you and we could check out the merchandise together. Now you are like the clerk in a fancy store. I wait in line for my turn. You listen to my request and then go in the back to check and see if you have anything available for me.

Lucky for me, though, I am one crafty mother. That sentence can be read in the literal sense or in the street wise way and they are both fact. I am one crafty mutha. I can change with the times and middle school just makes me up my game.

I will sit down with you over a snack you can’t resist. I am always smart enough to sneak in when I can. I, too, am coiled like a tiger ready to pounce. I lie in wait with freshly made brownies or a “yes” to the Goldfish crackers I know you will always eat and we will talk.

That 50 year-old man voice doesn’t fool me. It’s still the voice you use when you tell me that you think you’ll use your birthday gift certificate to buy a stuffed animal. Or the voice that asks to watch an episode of Sherlock together. That old guy assures me it didn’t scare you at all but I watch as you turn on every light in the whole house to illuminate your way to your new bedroom down in the basement. I know you are still mostly kid in there. I am smart enough to enjoy that side of you before it slips away.

I now have to window-shop your thoughts instead of being invited in. I can live with that if I must. I do my research while you are quiet. I read about sports so that you will want to share your words with me again. I ask you about an athlete you love and I get at least a ten-minute conversational volley out of you. See that? I am even using your sports metaphors in my writing now! Seriously crafty.

And off we go! I’m sorry; I mean off you go to middle school. I will remain in the background and watch from afar. I accept your quiet and understand that you want to keep more of your thoughts for yourself. I promise you that my parenting will remain full of slack and loops. My squishy middle-aged lady fat will always accept your hugs. The squishy fat is because, just like you, I love freshly made brownies. But I will always accept your hugs because I also love the hell out of you, kid.


About the author: Stephanie Olson is a mom of two boys. She lives and writes in Seattle, dreams of Paris and firmly believes that there is nothing in life a little Tater Tot hot dish couldn’t fix. Her work has appeared in ParentMap magazine, Seattle Weekly and she was a 2016 cast member of Listen To Your Mother in Seattle. You can read more from Stephanie on her blog, Ma Swell Vie or find her on Facebook at


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  1. I know what you mean! I too have read up on Minecraft and Youtube videos by guys who’s name I can’t pronounce! So sneaky yet effective!!

  2. Hi Stephanie! My goodness – middle school! You are one strong observant mama, girl, and I love how you put your thought-and-thinking process to words regarding the raising of you great sons.

    Both your sons will be just fine, because they have a wonderful Mom and a great Dad, also! If you keep an open dialogue with your son, (sometimes only one-sided!), it will be OK. Can you imagine all the emotions your older son is going thru at this time in his young life? This is alright, and he will be taking all the necessary steps to help him grow to manhood!

    Can I update you on what is going on in my life of motherhood? My younger son, my baby, is moving to Arizona!! This is a step up for him and his work, and I am so proud of him! And then there is the side of me who is borderline devastated. He is my chatter-box (I swear, he opens up and tells me all his plans and ideas, and I love him for that!) I will miss that so much, but but he assures me he will call, text and possibly Skype with me! My Irish-Catholic guilt kicked in the other day as I realized I never properly taught him to cook healthy meals. Ohhhhh, the guilt! (LOL! kinda!) But I told him to go on YouTube and search how to cook certain foods, etc. I know he will be fine, and I hope my words of wisdom thru the years will stay with him.

    I also realized I never taught him to sew or sew on a button. Arrrgggghhhh! But again, he can google this, or find a tailoress in Arizona. This is when I realize he is very resourceful (because of how I raised him, thank you very much!), and will do just fine.

    The good news: In May is Mother’s Day, and I am flying to Arizona to spend a few days with him. I am thrilled!! AND his birthday is in June, and he wants me to celebrate his birthday with him!!! And these are all necessary steps for my son to take to get him to where he wants to be. I told him all kinds of ‘good Mom advice,’ like ‘this will be such an adventure for you!’ and ‘you are opening your life up to change, and this will be such a good thing!’. I also told him he can always return to Seattle if he feels Arizona is not his cup of tea. (Note: In September he will be coming to Seattle for this high-school reunion – hallelujah!!)

    The odd thing about all of this, is both my sons, at heart, are small-town-boys, who have a hard time handling the huge growth of the Seattle area AND THE TRAFFIC, and long for a little-bit slower pace of live. I can truly see my older son following suit, but will stay in Washington State.

    Me? (The following falls under ‘crafty-mom category’ – and I believe you put that phrase into my head, thank you very much! – LOL!) If I feel it necessary to move to Arizona to be closer to my younger son, I will rent my home out and move there. I needed a Plan B, and it is good to know I have it if I need it.

    Look at all the things you have to look forward to, Stephanie!! Believe me, your sons will do great, because they have a wonderful, supportive and loving Mom – YOU! From the bottom of my heart, you have done and are doing a wonderful job of raising your sons. You go, girl! Take good care,

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