our oaf

My older son, now 14, is in what I (mostly) fondly call The Oafish Stage. He’s too big to delve into dress-up and play-acting but too young to have a real job. It’s an awkward, in-between stage. It’s also—I’m starting to notice—perhaps the perfect age for piling on the work, both academic and otherwise.

I’m a novice at these teen years so I really don’t know anything. Experienced parents, what do you think? Have you noticed that young teens have a particular aptitude for grunt work and straight-up knowledge acquisition?

This same time, years previous: the visit, a spat, the thumb thucker (who still is, by the way), and brandied-bacony roast chicken.


  • Gregory Andrew Jordan

    Someone else said these were dangerous years especially in public school. At that age I was called an Oaf, a nickname that haunted me throughout middle school. It impacted my self confidence well into adulthood. I hope your son escaped the period unscathed.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Yep, he sure did! He’s dizzyingly energetic and productive and focused — worlds different from the young teen version of himself. The changes kids go through are amazing, really.

  • Jamie Jo

    I love how you explained his age…that inbetween age, too old to play play and too young to get a real job! I also have a 14 year old boy and I am trying to really hold on to these blessings of having him still so innocent and still young and yet old enough to talk about serious things.

    (we also have an "almost 12" year old girl, that's how old she tells people she is, all girls do at this age, I think. Anyway, girls are so so so different than boys. And that is all I have to say about that)

  • Anonymous

    If your son attended public school, which he doesn't, I would say these are "dangerous" years. Trying to decide on an identity can sometimes lead to bad choices. Since his environment is more controlled, he has the safe space to try out different scenarios till he finds the right fit for him. Enjoy the evolution and continue photographing it!

  • Anonymous

    This is my son, exactly! The pictures–the facial expressions are eerily similar– and yes, I sometimes think of my kiddo as a big oaf also. Such an awkward time of life. Makes me cherish the times they are happy and care-free.
    -Jennifer in Sunny So. Cal


    At 14 they feel very grown up and feel they don't need parents anymore. He will need guidance. 14 year olds prefer the company of their friends rather than parents. Invite his friends over to your house often and stock up on pizza and all that stuff. He would work by cutting neighbours grass, shovelling snow, walking dogs, anything to get him some dollars to call his own until he's old enough to get a part time job. Smile Mum and enjoy HIS years. Good luck.

  • The Domestic Fringe

    Ah, yes. My son is this very same stage also. Heeeelp. The teenage years are a strange new world.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    What Lauralli said. Teens are like a compass in a magnetic storm – you never know what direction you're heading in. Good luck.

  • Lauralli

    Depends on their mood of the moment! I'd say you've entered dangerous territory, my friend! At times, this age can be rational, responsible, eager to please. But, they can turn on you without a moment's notice! One moment they view you as wise and funny, the next, you are foolish and embarrassing! It's a minefield with teens! Welcome to the next 10-12 years of your life! 🙂

  • melodie davis

    you are indeed fortunate if you have one with an aptitude (and willingness) for grunt work. It is likely a sign of future geniess (which I can't even spell) if he also is ready for piling on homework. Congratulations. And be thankful!

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