Growing pains

The one thing I find as a parent that is truly remarkable is seeing my son grow and mature. I still have visions of him as a baby and as I see him growing I just can not believe how fast the years are going by. I became a parent later in life as I married at the age of 36 and became a father at the age of 37 when Matthew was born in 1998. My sisters married and had children much younger than I and a lot of my contemporaries have kids in college already. My mom was 21 and my dad was 25 when I was born in 1961.

As I see Matthew growing I start to realize he is not a baby anymore and his needs are changing and his life is becoming more complicated as he is now a middle school student and he is having to become more responsible and we have to learn that he is his own person and we can not always be so over protective of him. We have to learn sometimes to know when we have to trust our son and not always worry for him. He then benefits because he knows we trust him and we benefit because we see that he is making progress.

As Matthew grows and matures we do naturally worry for him as he has to still compensate for his autism and epilepsy that will always affect him and naturally as kids get older they start to mature in other ways and start noticing the opposite sex and start to be influenced by their peers and we have to make sure he is well informed and makes smart decisions.

In my eyes Matthew is a wonderful young boy who still has an innocence about him as he still believes in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. He is very intelligent and he has a kind and friendly disposition. He does lack the social skills that enables him to develop meaningful friendships as he tends to be alone a lot outside of school. We are trying to get him involved in programs suited to his needs and will enable him to develop socially and make friends. It seems today is a lot harder establishing friendships outside of school because you have to make arrangements to schedule play dates and be available to transport your child there and back. The times seem to have become more complicated. When I was a kid there was no such thing as play dates. If we wanted to hang with a friend we would call our parents and tell them we were going to a friends house after school and we would take a bus home. Today parents have to constantly be monitoring their kids and traveling with them everywhere when they want to do things after school.

This is why if Matthew showed interest in a sport like soccer it would be ideal because he would be involved in healthy competition and he would have the opportunity to have fun and make friends. If he enjoyed the sport he would learn skills that would enable him to play better. At this point as a 10 year old he really shows no desire to compete in sports so I can not push him. I want him to choose what he likes and I would try to help him become more involved if I felt that would benefit him.

Sometimes I wonder who is going through the growing pains, Matthew or myself. It seems that it is so hard to let go and let your child experience life and grow. I have always been a bit over protective of my son as has Maria due to his medical concerns and his autism. I still try to envision my days as a 10 year old and how I managed and try to help my son by relating my experiences. It seems with age I have become more forgetful and it seems so long ago when I was a 10 year old. I can almost remember the time but only certain instances that were significant to me stick out as I can still remember back to when I was 5 year old as that was a time when I started to question things and started trying new things that I enjoyed. So we just have to be there for our child and support them and let them express themselves and talk and we must always be there for them and listen as that is very important.

So I do look forward to seeing Matthew grow and mature and I wish to always be there for him and help him and I still enjoy the memories of when he was a little baby. It all seems to happen in the blink of an eye. One day you’re a little baby completely dependent on your parents and the next day you’re in middle school. All I can say is that Matthew is my best dream come true and I love him and my wife and we want him to experience all the things kids his age like and we want him to grow and mature and make many friends and do well in school and in life. We want the very best for him like dad wanted for us and I will make that my priority in life!

I always enjoyed the show Growing pains with Joanna Kerns, Alan Thicke, Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold and Candace Cameron and thought the title was a good one for this topic as was the picture of their show.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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