The Next Phase

When I arrived at my ex’s house Monday evening to pick up the twins, my ex lumbered through the front door clutching a sheet of paper. I mentally braced myself for what would likely be bad news, and prepared myself for the grating of her voice on my so very sensitive and delicate ears.

As she forked over the paper, she said, “The boys are allotted 4 tickets each for their promotion ceremony on June 2. I figure you can have four and I can have four.”

Promotion ceremony? Oh, yeah. They’ll be freshman soon…shit.

I absently nodded my assent while staring blankly at the letter the school had sent us containing the dress code and rules for the ceremony. Though I’ve known for quite some time that my boys would be high school freshman next year, the realization that that moment will be occurring in less than a month slapped me squarely across the face with all the vigor of a scorned lover. When did this happen? When did my cute little boys transform into strapping young men? Who gave them permission to grow up? Where the fuck have the last fourteen and a half years gone?

Their metamorphosis from boys to men is not confirmed solely by the sheet of paper I grasp unsteadily in my hand. Their evolution has become physically evident, as well. No longer can I look down on my boys as their eyes are level with mine. No longer are their voices tiny and falsetto, but deepening and sunken. No longer are their faces smooth and clean, but sullied by patches fuzzy facial hair.

My boys are now at a point in their lives where decisions they make now can and will shape the rest of their lives, and that is a daunting prospect. I want to teach them the folly of my mistakes, but I fear they, like their father, will only learn from their own experiences and not the experiences of others. I want them to succeed and thrive, but I cannot provide an adequate example for them to follow. I want to show them the path I took is not an advisable path to travel. I want to, at some point, sit down with them and delicately explore abuse in the hopes that they are aware of what to look for and to recognize it for what it is and to walk away from it. Sadly, my experience with abuse was with their mother, which is why the discussion will have to be delicate.

There is so much I want for them and now that they are nearing the cusp of adulthood I’m frightened. What if I fuck things up? What if I inadvertently guide them down a deleterious path? My high school years were the first years of my life to begin shaping me into the man I am today, and there are things I was subjected to I hope they never endure.

I’m both excited and scared for the next few years. I’m nervous. I’m hopeful. They have their entire lives before them and that’s encouraging, but life is ever brutal and ruthlessly unfair. I need for them to be prepared for that aspect of it. I have a challenging task before me and I hope I’m up for it. I know they will be. They’re smart and, to date, have been able to accomplish anything they’ve set their minds to.

This is going to be a hell of a ride.

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About Twindaddy (330 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

113 Comments on The Next Phase

  1. A mix of terror and pride. How has the time gone so quickly? Look at how far they’ve come… 😀

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  2. Just love them TD, they will find their own way from there.

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  3. You know, those boys have been there — they see both you and their mother if not clearly, honestly. They will figure it out. Good luck with the next phase.

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  4. You are a wonderful father! Don’t doubt your ability to get them through the teen years – you already have a good relationship with your boys which is more than half the battle! Keep the lines of communication open, don’t shy away from ANYTHING they want to talk about. State your values clearly & calmly but be open to new attitudes. Talk to them about mistakes you made, be frank about your part in your past – when they see you were not just a victim, but an unwilling participant in where your life led you they will see how easily peer pressure or authority figures can steer you wrong. All of my kids know I smoked mj in my youth, that I tried hashish but that it didn’t stick with me because I didn’t like the experience. They also know about the years I spent as a party girl, drinking until 5 a.m. almost every night & trying to work to support myself, but falling asleep in the bathroom. I didn’t tell them as a point of pride – but so they could see I am not perfect, I made some mistakes along the way, but I learned from them too. I had a hand in raising 6 teens – there were times I would have rather crawled under the table than talk about certain subjects with them, but I just admitted to them I was slightly uncomfortable about the topic & jumped in with both feet & both ears wide open.

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    • I’ve talked openly with them about suicide and mental health a number of times, but I am afraid to broach abuse with them because it was THEIR mother who abused me. I don’t want them to think that I’m attempting to taint their feelings about her, but I do want them to be aware of the signs and NOT fall for the same traps I did.

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    • Then talk about the signs they need to watch for in an oblique way. As if someone you know went through this & you thought it might be important for them to know.
      When my first hubby & I separated I made it very clear to my daughter – I would never interfere with the love she had for her father BUT if she ever found herself uncomfortable about something he was doing she could always come to me. I might not be able to solve her problem, but I could listen & hopefully give her some ideas on how to cope with whatever it might be.

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  5. Teach them to be the man you wish to be. You’ll do okay. 🙂

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  6. My mom says she didn’t teach us anything, but we taught her so many new things. I don’t know if that’s true. But I know your boys will figure out the world by themselves; I’m sure they already did. They will make your worst fears wrong and best dreams right. World hides in future and the future belongs to them. And somehow I know the best lessons come from our own experiences. 🙂

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  7. They’ll be just fine. More than fine. A source of pride to you and their mum. Trust me. I’m an expert! I won’t go into all the whys and hows I know but I know. Mainly, right at this moment, because when kids have parents who really care and are prepared to do what it takes to maximise chances for growth and happiness the rest is a breeze. Including the drunken forays. Broken hearts. Sleepless nights. First holidays with friends. They’ll do it all. And they’ll be grand young men. You see if they don’t. x

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    • Thanks, hon. I’m just nervous, I guess. There’s just SO MUCH I went through that I hope to spare them from, but I don’t I have that power.

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      • We don’t have to have. Just loads of love. Hugs in abundance. And a good skelp on the arse sometimes. It works.
        Bear in mind that they know some of what you went through. They’re teens but not blind. Even kids know their parents’ flaws. (Including their mum’s.)
        I have 20+ nieces and nephews and seven of my own. Eight of those children are from broken marriages and have seen and heard things that have made them stronger because they understood through the constancy of love and care and disciplined direction on the part of at least one of the parents.
        Really, they will be fine. Everything you say in regards to them and your love for them tells me they’ll be more than fine.
        Relax and enjoy them.x

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  8. i haven’t raised my own teen yet, but i’ve helped raise one who is now 22. (yikes). just let them know you’re there. and be there. always. especially if things get ugly.

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  9. My daughter is 12 today. Not quite as old as your boys, but she’s giving Cimmy and I one hell of a ride. We love her a lot, even when she’s a smart aleck.

    I second what the others have said. I think you’re doing fine. No, seriously. That you worry means you’re taking it seriously, which is as it should be. No need to second-guess or sell yourself short.

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  10. Tough one. They are wisdom.

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  11. Ugh, I know what you mean! My oldest is turning 16 this fall. He’s taller than me, stronger than me, has more facial hair than me…j/k, I don’t have any facial hair. But anyway. It is so hard. I want so badly to protect him, and my almost-12-year-old too, from everything. I never want anything bad or hurtful or scary to happen to them. I think from what I’ve read here, you are probably doing a pretty good job as a role model and father. A counselor told me once that if you care enough to be worried that you’re fucking it up (parenting) then you probably weren’t. So I guess we do the best we can, and some stuff they just have to figure out on their own.

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  12. So “promotion ceremony” equals graduation from junior high? When did they start doing that? I didn’t graduate from any kind of school until I got my high school diploma… I just got booted on to the next level…

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  13. So I can look forward to the teenage years? *eyelid twitching*

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  14. I’m obviously not a real mama, I just play one on the internet, but I do spend a reasonable amount of time with young people given that I work on a college campus. So the best piece of advice I have to offer is this – teach them about personal responsibility and that every choice comes with consequences. I’m sure that’s already on your agenda, but it seems that most parents these days aren’t spending any time with that at all.

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  15. You will do an awesome job. You’ve admitted to growing through your mistakes and are now living an example the can follow….and wow, they grow up so fast.

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  16. lrconsiderer // May 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm // Reply

    The fact that you even CARE TO ASK THESE KINDS OF QUESTIONS gives me absolute, 100% faith in your ability to handle it WELL. Even when you think you’re not. Even when you mess it up. You got this, because it MATTERS TO YOU TO GET IT.

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  17. I can relate! My son goes into middle school next year and I’m wondering how the time flew by so fast. It’s a mixture of fear and happiness for him. It sounds like your boys are in good hands. Our kids will probably make mistakes because that’s life. So long as they know they are loved, they can recover and learn from them.

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  18. Oh, I remember that, when they teetered on the cusp and I stared into the abyss. Don’t worry. It is awesome.

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  19. You I’m not worried about. I’m worried about those fuck-wads who don’t give enough of a shit to even worry about their parenting.

    At the end of the day all we can do is try to set a good example (often hard) and to arm them with confidence in their decision making ability. Well, that and to love the shot out of them. Even if they screw up.

    xo

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  20. Mine is about to finish his sophomore year… It is amazing how the time goes by.

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  21. *shit, not shot. Damned iPhone.

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  22. Oh… sure …

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  23. I think you have the same fears that so many of us have – and I am going to say dads and men, because there is different flavour to things when it comes to the dad-son relationship. The boys will have seen the examples in your life – how to do things and perhaps how *not* to do things. The ball is in their court, and our jobs as dads (I hope) is to be there when things go pear shaped. To shed our experience, good and bad. Letting go is a bitch, and I am going to have to learn that too with my two boys. I too worry that they carry the booze gene. I pray to hell they don’t go down the path I did. But all I can do is just guide them, direct them, mentor them. I am sure you have done that to yours, even without know it.

    It will all work out, my friend 🙂

    Paul

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  24. “…with all the vigor of a scorned lover…” You have a future in romance novels. On a serious note, don’t worry. If you can craft this blog post, your boys are in safe hands. My 18-yo with his scruffy face tufts (best description for adolescent white boy facial hair) is doing fine in spite of … ME.

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  25. Give them credit that whatever decisions they make (good or bad) they are all lessons. Trust that you raised them to be solid citizens and in the end it will all come together. It has been very hard for me to trust that my kids know what they are doing, because I am always second guessing my own parenting skills. Congrats to all of you on making it to the next level!

    Ps. I feel like my son’s voice got deeper on a daily basis. When he answered the phone I would always say “Is Zac there?” which was followed by a big sarcastic MOOOOOOOM! That response was the only way I knew he wasn’t abducted.

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    • Lol. I think I’ve done a fine job of raising them to be good citizens, I’m more worried about life choices. Career, love, etc.

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      • Hahaha! My definition of a “good citizen” is a kind person…all that other stuff will fall into place. My son is in the process of finding his path. It’s not easy for a bright kid who would rather learn by doing than listening, in a world where college is shoved down your throat. Best advice I can give you is … “be patient it will all work out in the end.” (easier said than done)

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  26. ohhh growing up is so hard on us parents!! you’re gonna do great because you’re you and you’ll face it all with thoughtful love

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  27. Ride that life, cowboy… and I love that line about the lumbering ex…

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  28. Your sons already have a leg up because they have you!

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  29. Well said. Mine two boys are a few years older, so college looms on the horizon. I am constantly amazed by how fast everything has been changing.

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  30. I wish I knew.

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  31. Natalie DeYoung // May 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm // Reply

    Aw, shit man. That sounds hard. I admire you for even thinking about this, for knowing yourself and wanting to set a better example than you may have in the past. Let’s just say that in my experience, I did not know many fathers that had that kind of awareness or cared enough to want to talk about it.
    Good luck.

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  32. I often wrestled with how much truth to share with my children. This is my experience. I shared the bad stuff with my daughter in an effort to teach her, so she could avoid the mistakes I made – and I made a lot. She told me she wanted to learn for herself. I didn’t share the bad stuff with my son (2nd born). He chose to learn from the experience of others (I was not his only example), so he could avoid making bad choices. I think the personality of the child is ultimately the bottom line. Both of my kids turned out to be amazing, very together, adults.

    Fourteen is when life really changes. With my daughter, it was like the toddler stage all over again. She began testing boundaries. She started looking for her independence and believed she knew more than her parents, because let’s face it; we are old in their eyes. The next five years could potentially be a roller coaster. Fasten your seat belt. Or, if your twins are like my son, it will be smooth sailing all the way.

    You are such a caring father that no matter what you choose to do, your boys will know it is because you love them. That is really what matters. They do grow up too fast!

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  33. Boy, do I feel this one. My daughter started middle school this year and I worried. I talked with her about the things I thought she should know. She did fine. My son will be in his last year of elementary school next year so I have to go through the worry about middle school again very soon. With my history of addiction, I am especially fearful and I educate my kids as I find appropriate, but do we ever stop worrying that they will be like us, go through the hell that we went through? I don’t think so. Then I think about this….they have an advantage we (or at least I) didn’t. A parent who has been there and is willing to talk about it. Answer questions. Relate. Talk to them. Be honest. I wrote a post about my daughter that stated that I couldn’t make the walk for her, but I can walk beside her. Love them right through it. They’ll feel it and it WILL influence the decisions they make. You (and they) will be fine, TD. They have you in their corner and that right there is a win. Hang in, buddy 🙂

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  34. TD, you will handle it, just like you’ve managed to handle everything else. The Twins rock and will continue to do so. The important thing for them to know is that you love them, no matter what, and that you’ll always be there for them. Which I think you’ve managed to prove thus far.

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  35. I can’t believe that I almost missed this great post!
    You are a great daddy and the fact that you are worried, self-aware and only want the best for your kiddos means that you have more than half of that battle licked.
    FYI: My son just had 8th promotion last week. You said it perfectly…”Where the f+() did the last 14 years go.?” Time flies–they are so lucky to have you along to guide the ride!

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  36. I’m not there yet with my children, but I think these are all normal fears. You seem like a wonderful father. They will make mistakes and have amazing accomplishments because both of those things will help them grow. Chin up, TD. It’s going to be okay 🙂

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