Smelly Socks: The pain with growing pains

It happened before my very eyes. Suddenly, the cute little decoupage toy box in my oldest child's closet was no longer holding remote control cars, Nerf guns and motorized cranes - now, it was filled to the brim with baseballs, skateboards, batting helmets and basketballs.

The little wooden-block letters that spelled out "Austin" attached along his wall that I thought was so special and somewhat original was now looked down upon by my son.

"Really, Mom, I know how to spell my name, and who else's room could this possibly be? You don't have letters in your room on your wall saying Mom and Dad."

His not-so-subtle point was taken.

I can't deny it anymore. Austin is growing up and will be turning 13 in August. So in honor of him becoming a full-fledged teenager, I deemed that it was time to do a little redecorating. Austin seemed happy with my decision and declared that his room "needed to grow up."

First to go was, sadly, the wooden block letters that spelled out his name. Sad, yes, but they served their purpose and had many years of use.

Since I have a tendency to overdo things just a tad, I used some seriously strong putty on the back of the letters to adhere them to the wall. With the letter removal, it seems that the paint was also removed and, yes, even a little bit of the sheetrock. I guess I assumed that those letters were never going to come down.

With the tragic letter removal mishap, a new paint job was in order. Austin's room was a neutral color with red, blue and green stripes painted vertically around his room. A dear friend and I painted those stripes together for two days in scorching July heat with four young kids running between our legs as we were trying to remain steady and paint stripes.

At the time they were painted, the stripes seemed to fit a 6-year-old Austin perfectly. However, now he has definite opinions and proclaimed that he wanted a mature color. After I stood my ground and convinced him that painting his room in the Ferrari logo's color scheme of yellow, red and green was not going to happen, we soon came to a compromise to paint his room a nice, mature gray; actually, the color is Sherwin Williams' Amazing Gray.

The color is, well, just simply amazing. Austin and I were very pleased with his new teenage and mature-looking color. The major furniture and drapes all stayed the same, and we changed out his pictures for more "manly pictures."

I know that 13 will be a very interesting year. He will be entering middle school on a new school campus and will be participating in school sports.

He will no longer be under the protective umbrella of sixth grade at intermediate school on the same campus as his younger brother. Like it or not, my role will be more of a support role.

Change is scary, no doubt about that. I have never been a person who relishes change, but with children, I have no choice. I have learned and will continue to learn, to be more flexible; again, I have no choice.

The good Lord willing, I want to be around to experience many more changes and many firsts for Austin and Jamison. I will do my best to greet each and every change and experience head-on and let them grow. As they get older, they will have many ups and downs, and they will have many successes and failures.

I want Austin and Jamison to experience life and learn its valuable lessons of love and loss and good and bad. I don't want them to have a life unmarred. I honestly want them to get their hearts broken, and I want them to lose at something important.

Only with hardship will they develop a strong sense of character. While everyone has a unique personality, a distinct character truly makes them the people who they are. I hope that my boys see that they can and will fail and then they can pick up the pieces and try again.

Valuable lessons can be learned in failure, and when success comes, so does a sense of confidence. Maybe on their next try, they will succeed. When they do succeed, I pray that their character will make them humble in their successes.

As the famous quote goes, "Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but it's all about how you played the game."

I want my boys to have no regrets and to learn to be the most phenomenal players.

Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at smellysocks@vicad.com.