I have a teenager!
This morning, I woke up to a teenager!
It seems impossible that I could spend every hour of every day with Jaiden, yet somehow feel like he morphed into a young adult without me noticing, but that is what happened during these past couple of hectic months.
As I sit here and look back at how far he has come, my eyes fill with tears. In November of 2012, Jaiden and I set off into the unknown. Armed with nothing more than a hunch, I took us both well outside of our comfort zone, I didn’t know how profoundly life-changing his experience would be for us both.
That little boy was most comfortable with a rigid routine, he was happiest when left to sit alone and play with his cars or trains, his little box of comfort was where he wanted to exist. He did not want to try new things, or play with other kids.
That little boy had major emotion regulation issues, a simple misunderstanding or challenge could set him off into a sometimes hour-long meltdown. Squealing, throwing toys, hitting and scratching were all just part of how he dealt with his frustrations.
That little boy refused to talk to strangers who had pronounced frown lines, he would not sit on the toilet because of the noise it made when it flushed, and due to this noise sensitivity he was petrified of the beach, he hated the sound of rustling trees, and the sound of his cereal packet being opened would send his hands over his ears to shield himself from the noise. This was a huge hurdle in our early days of travel and I quickly realised our travels were going to look very different to what I had imagined.
Today, the young man that sits before me is a shadow of the boy he once was. He’s grown and matured into a caring, compassionate and confident young man. He’s overcome his fear of the beach and learned to surf and snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef. He’s rock-climbed up 40m cliffs on the side of mountains, ridden in a drift car, learned to skateboard and snowboard, overcome his fear of animals, learned to ride and lead a horse, and will happily go on long hikes into the unknown.
He’s learned how to navigate social situations, meeting new kids has become one of his favourite things. He’s able to control his emotions and take ‘time out’ when required. He confidently walks into a shop alone and converse with a shopkeeper, or ask for help if required.
Despite hitting the teens he’s retained so much of his innocence, the smell and feeling of his teddy on his face calms him, our morning ‘cuddle shop’ is still a significant part of our morning and he’ll come to me several times a day for a hug. He continues to show empathy and compassion well beyond his years, and at times, he has been my rock.
I could never have imagined that my life would change so profoundly, he’s taught me far more than I will ever teach him. Whilst we face challenges every day, I could not be more proud of the young man that my little boy has become.
Happy birthday little dude, I love doing life with you.