I wondered when it would happen. It was inevitable, and healthy, and age-appropriate, and normal and all of those sorts of things that a mother wants for her child, but somehow it still took me by surprise. My son is growing away from me, away from his family. He is developing relationships and skills that have nothing to do with me, and he is managing those relationships and cultivating those skills on his own, neither seeking nor desiring my help or even my cognizance.
The same child who still needs to be reminded to brush his teeth each night is receiving phone calls from his friends, and when asked what they wanted responds with "nothing, it's private." Private? At seven? With friends that aren't even seven yet? I don't remember even receiving phone calls at that age, let alone private ones.
I don't mind the privacy per se really. We've already had the good secrets/bad secrets talk, and the "you can always tell us anything" talk and I'm as confident as it's possible for a parent to be that the message has gotten through. And more to the point, I can't imagine that first-graders have such devious secrets to keep, not these good, smart, well-behaved kids from good families that I know well. I'm just surprised that it's started so early. The days when I controlled his whole environment ended years ago, but this is a new level of independence, a period of pulling away and defining the boy he is going to be, not the one his mother wishes him to be. You expect some resistance and secrets in an older child, but my son is still walking that fine line between young child and older and the moments that tip the balance one way or the other often catch me unprepared. Sometimes I'm exasperated by his childishness, while other times it is the older child's sudden appearance which takes my breath away.
I knew about the separation anxiety that peaks at just about nine months; I was prepared for it, I'd read books. It came, we coped, it left.
Nobody told me that there was another round at seven - or that this time it would be mine.