While I try not to be a helicopter mom, and really do enjoy watching my kids grow up, I have to admit that my first born gets a little more worry and attention from me. He's my guinea pig! I figure if he gets it right, then I can just coast through motherhood on autopilot with the rest. Wink.
John-Paul was born a month early, induced because I couldn't keep down any food due to gallstones. He was still a whopping 6 pounds 5 ounces at birth (I cringe when I think how big he would have been at full-term) and arrived on my birthday. I knew he was special from the start, giving me the gift of motherhood on my birthday...that's some great multitasking! Because of his early arrival (and inheriting my ginormous head) John-Paul didn't roll over, sit up, or crawl at the right times. So we started physical therapy with him, and eventually he began scooting on his bum around a year old (which led to the temporary nickname of Scooter) and finally walked around 18 months. He was always a skinny boy, but never a picky eater. He was such an easy baby and because of his limited mobility would just sit still and play and loved to be read to. He was verbally advanced, and of course we knew he was a little genius from the start. Not unlike most first time parents, I'm sure ;)
When he started school, he made a few friends, yet was never the most popular. He definitely was a great little student, and had an innocence about him that still carries over to this day. He is a sensitive boy who still has to leave the room if there are any emotional scenes on tv (someone getting in trouble, someone liking another person, someone about to get caught). It's just too much intensity for his soul to take. He's a total bookworm, and would much rather be inside reading a book then playing with the other boys outside. I used to worry about him socially because I could see he was at times, painfully shy, and knowing how sensitive and empathetic he was, I worried others would think he was weird.
Somewhere along the way, John-Paul totally came out of his shell. The awesome Catholic school environments he was in, excelling in the classroom, altar serving, it all led him to have this quiet confidence and sweet spirit. I always tell my kids to just be nice to everybody. The "cool" kids or mean kids or the funny kids might be more popular for a little while, but the nice guys will always be surrounded with friends in the end. J-P has grown up to be such a nice guy.
At the ripe old age of thirteen, he is finishing 7th grade with a bang! Just this week, he won first place in the middle school's Amazing Race competition out of 32 teams. Then he found out he would be placed in the honors Algebra class for 8th grade due to his math grades, and finally he ran for Student Council Treasurer and won! I couldn't be more proud of this kid! He is so helpful at home (he's our laundry guy) and has started babysitting when the little ones are in bed so Phil and I can take an evening walk together. He serves Mass at least once a week (and once a month in Latin) and he seems to have a great group of friends, both boys and girls, around him. He is currently working on increasing his muscle mass by doing P90x videos and eating all the food in the house :)
I guess I just wanted to say to the moms out there...don't spend too much time worrying about the skills you think your child lacks. John-Paul has become a wonderful young man in spite of me, not because of me, and what a load of time I wasted worrying about it at all. Just help them become their true selves, pray for them, lead them towards Heaven, and you'll be amazed at how they might turn out. Let go and let God!