My youngest (7) still thinks I am the shit and wants me to play Barbies with her and hang out with her and her friends on playdates.
Second-youngest (9) still gives me hugs in front of his friends. Brief ones. And he tells me about all the inventions in his head, and wants to help me make dinner.
Second-oldest (10) will barely let me give him a hug, like, ever. God forbid anyone should see that mess. Hugs are not cool. Parents: also not cool. But he tells me about the funny parts in the book he’s reading, and if he’s bored at home he comes to hang out by me while I work.
Oldest (11-almost-12) sprints out of the car as soon as it stops. She’s into heavy metal. She’s got her own crew. She melts into a puddle of despair if she has to go a day without seeing her friends. But she still binge-watches Sherlock or Gilmore Girls with me and wants me to look at all her art.
They definitely hit that point when we perpetually embarrass them, simply by existing. But they also need us. We’re their grounding place in the new, weird, expanded world they’re navigating. They crave the connection, the reassurance that they have a safe place… Just as long as that connection happens when none of their friends are around.