The New Phase of Parenthood

Written By Brandy Centolanza

I miss the days of coloring, Play-Doh, and Elmo. As I saw recent posts and pictures show up in my Facebook newsfeed from friends who are sad about registering their babies for kindergarten, I felt a twinge of sorrow myself, for one of my “babies” is going to be a fifth-grader come September. It is mind-boggling to me, for it truly does seem like last week when my son was the one getting on that big yellow bus for the first time. And as middle school approaches, I am faced with a new phase of parenthood, one I dread: the “tween” stage. The stage where bodies and attitudes and table conversations become more complex. My son is no longer a “baby” yet not quite mature for discussions about sex, drinking, and the like. But, look, here we are. Part of the school curriculum for the upper elementary grades includes sex education. That talk is fast approaching, but I am finding it hard to think about starting a conversation about how a sperm and an egg meet with a child who still wonders if Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny are friends. I recently interviewed the new executive director of Bacon Street, a treatment facility for teen substance abuse, and she said parents shouldn’t wait until the ninth grade to start the discussions about alcohol and drugs with their children because by then they know it all. Great. So, there is another conversation I need to have with my kid in between playing Legos and video games with him. And thanks to school, I’ve also had to field questions about the mayhem in Baltimore and people who are being hanged. I know dealing with real world issues is inevitable and my son will one day be able to handle it, but at this moment in time, it would be cool if Marty McFly would show up at my door right about now with his Delorean and take me back to those innocent pre-school days of finger-painting, building blocks, and picking dandelions in the park.