My Mini-Me (When Your Tween Wants To Be Like You)

Last week my son and I were in the kitchen engaged in the usual summertime routine. After waking up late in the morning, we were rummaging through the fridge to determine which morsels would fill our empty bellies when my son decided to start “posing,” trying to flaunt the gun show. We were chuckling and horsing around when I told him that when he grew up he could be buff like me as I flexed and pointed to my newly hardened pecs (compliments of my weight-loss regimen and Crossfit) and as he poked the pecs, I said to him, “See, I should call myself the ‘ROCKness Monster!'” And as I walked out of the kitchen, he followed behind saying, “Yeah, and I’m Little Rockness!” A little later, I walked into my bedroom and my wife quietly says to me, “Does he do EVERYTHING you do?!”

My eldest son is 13, his voice is changing, he’s grown taller seemingly overnight and thinned out and now he’s looking around to some model of what a man is and me being the closest male to him, other than his brother, I’m getting the first look. And that… that is scary! If I’m a terrible husband, or a man who withholds love and reassurance, or emotionally vacant, unavailable, he may pick those things up. If my priorities are way off, If my work ethic leads me to trade valuable time with him for brownie points with the boss, he may decide that’s what a man does. What’s scariest I guess is that, ultimately, he may become a mirror, casting an image back at me which shows me who I truly am. Heaven help me if I don’t like what I see because this mirror’s vision doesn’t just have serious ramifications for who I am, but more importantly, it’s effects could be far reaching in it’s impact on my son’s life, the woman he may one day marry and the children he may one day raise. How about that for performance anxiety?!?

I hear it often from new parents, that having children makes us want to be better humans, but what happens when the years have passed since we had a newborn and we now find ourselves standing almost shoulder to shoulder with our own reflection in the form of our teen and young adult children? What happens when we look up and realize that the time has gone by so fast and that better person we thought we were going to be when they were newborns never really materialized? It’s never too late to make a change, I know I’ve many more to make, including the one I made recently concerning my own fitness and eating habits but it’s still a mortifying task for some when you hear child psychologists talk about how young a child is when the things you’re teaching them by example actually take hold and form who they are or will be. This isn’t to say that I’ve done anything terribly wrong, but I know I’ve made mistakes. Been too tired to follow through on a promise, or got too busy and forgot. I’ve put quite a bit of energy into my children though… been at just about every dance recital, sporting event, school play. Done “daddy dates.”  Spent quiet time, listened, talked, asked questions and still I wonder if it’s enough Still, I tell you, it’s never too late.

I hope this is coherent. It’s more of a brain dump as I sat back and it really hit me just how much my son is shadowing me and I was filled with pride, excitement, elation, terror and fear of failure. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Being the comic geek I am, in my mind I keep seeing Ben and Aunt May telling a young Peter Parker that phrase and though I know I’m far from being a super hero, the stakes are much higher… this is real life. This is my son’s life.



Photo credits- Flickr: Woody H1, Just Taken Pics

About Tshaka Armstrong

Tshaka Armstrong is the husband to one awesome wife, dad to three awesome children. On any given day you may find him posting internet & tech family safety info here and on his personal blog, or chatting with his tweeps when he's not dadvocating here. Join in the conversation, drop a line, share a joke and join him in encouraging each other to be awesome!