They were so much easier when they didn’t speak, didn’t demand, didn’t pout. Even when they did speak with their demanding little tones, there was no affront to their demanding little commands – they were simple “I want water, juice, a cookie” “I want to go to the park”. Their world revolved around them as far as they knew, but I knew it too. I knew that they had no idea that their commands were rude, and I knew enough that it wasn’t going to hurt my feelings. And then….

and then they grew. They blossomed. They learned about the world around them. They learned empathy. They learned that others had the same feelings that they had and that others can feel the same things and words can sting. I remember their concerned faces and chubby little hands touching my face, asking if I hurt, or I was sick or I was sad when they sensed something not right in their world. In a strange way it was comforting, that they knew enough to know that others had feelings and sometimes those feelings could get hurt.  And then….

they grew some more. They have become bigger, stronger, funnier. They also started to come full circle. Their sentences, when spoken at all, are now short and mostly self centered. “I want to go to the movies” “I want to have friends over” “I don’t want that for dinner”.  They became concerned once again with themselves, their looks, their lives, their friends. Their hearing became faulty or so it seemed, since simple comments, questions or attempts to engage in conversation were ignored. Direct commands to something or answer – went ignored.

So now they are needy, but needy in a different way. They are self-centered, their empathy I am sure is still there somewhere buried under all the adolescent web of egocentricity that envelops their lives. Their commands and desires take the forefront. The little chubby hands that used to rub concerned against an arm or a cheek are gone, although I suspect that they will re-emerge when they break out of the cocoon of adolescence.

I only hope that I survive…..