My son is huge. Like Shaquille O’Neal huge—seriously. Who knows if he’ll keep up this ridiculous growth pace, but when you’re wearing men’s shoes by age 7, you’re bound to be on the beastly side. But as with all great gifts, there are challenges for a second grade giant.

For example, take playing dodgeball at an indoor trampoline park. When your legs and feet are weighing you down, things get a little tricky, especially when you’re dodging rapid fire balls. Factor in a pubescent opponent, and things get downright nasty.

To the big kid’s credit, he had no idea that he was drilling an eight-year-old. Nope, he just thought he had the chance to dominate one of his dudes—and we all know nothing feels better to the average middle schooler than one-upping an (ever-so-slightly) more awkward peer. Climbing up the social hierarchy is foundational for adolescents and I know whining about all the meanies is a waste of time, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to pounce on the turd that pegged my baby in his still developing man parts.

When my little Shaq hit the ground, my husband had to hold me back and it’s a good thing he did, because what happened next rocked my world. The adolescent turd swiped that shaggy, sweaty hair out of his eyes and went running over to my sweet baby to help him up. Behind those Justin Beiber bangs, I could see genuine remorse in his eyes as he apologized to my son and asked if he was okay.  Minus the body odor and cheesy dance music blaring in the trampoline park, it was like watching a sappy Hallmark movie, and for a brief moment, all was right with the world. Of course, my husband had to gloat in his “I was right and you were wrong” moment, but I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.

As my daughter gets closer to her 10th birthday, the adolescent crap is taking over and it’s making me crazy. I just want to lock my children in a time capsule and give them some kind of puberty blocking pills. One day my gentle giant will be scoring his own social points as he pegs some innocent kid with a dodgeball, and I can only hope that there will still be a genuinely sweet and remorseful child peeking out behind his Beiber hair as he offers the little one a hand up. So for today, I’ll refrain from jacking up any preteens and remind myself that inside every awkward middle schooler hides a scared little kid, just looking for some love. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

So, to the annoying middle schooler messin’ with my 8-year-old, thanks for jacking with me.

Keep Beliebing,

Nicole

(And if you think I misspelt “believing,” you don’t know what it’s like to be a Belieber)