05 July 2011

Independence Day

I was going to write a little more about RWA today, but my mood changed when Two threw his dirty clothes on top of my clean hand washables in the machine, and then proceeded to run them through a second cycle, with high spin. Did I mention they were my brand new clothes from the conference? And that he washed them with his Velcro-waisted bathing suits? When I shrieked and went upstairs to tell him that it's always advisable to LOOK INSIDE THE WASHER before using it, he stared at me and then laughed.

"It's not funny, Two," I steamed. "I'm not laughing."
His facial expression changed to bewilderment, laced with a healthy dose of annoyance.
"I just threw everything in. It's not like I planned it."
I stormed out of his room.

Later, when he had collected his clothes from the dryer, where they'd been pitched after I angrily sorted them from my twisted delicates, I told him to meet me for a discussion. He asked if I would drive him to meet his friends to watch the fireworks. Seriously. I told him to sit down, make eye contact with me, and listen, because that is how one shows courtesy and respect.

I explained that I was sure he hadn't deliberately ruined my clothes, but when I came to him, the proper response would have been to apologize first, and make excuses later. Similarly, when he was on vacation in Florida the whole previous week, it would have been courteous and respectful to contact one or more of his parents, via text or phone call, to let them know he was alive.

Eye-rolling, followed by an exasperated sigh, and the disclaimer that I hadn't asked him to do that.

I did not lose my mind. I know; you're shocked, aren't you? I actually paused to marvel at how the teaching opportunities never end. I wondered how many more years I would be so lucky.

What followed was a long, somewhat emotional discussion, regarding giving his parents what we want. I emphasized how this important lesson would translate to all aspects of his life, as he attended high school and  college, and later in his personal and work relationships. ANTICIPATE WHAT I WANT, AND GIVE IT TO ME. I DON'T CARE IF YOU WANT TO OR NOT.

Did this mean he would live a life of servitude? No. Could he share his thoughts and feelings? Yes. Was he still beholden to us until he moved out? Absolutely.

Angry tears welled in his eyes. At that moment, I realized he was a true teenager. And it made me sad. I had such high hopes for him. I thought we had a nice rapport that would help us navigate these next few years with only a few minor bumps and bruises. Now, it appears there's no guarantee we won't crash and end up in the ER.

I drove Two to meet his friends. Before he got out of the car, I hugged him.

"Two," I said, "you're a fifteen year-old boy. You're going to hate me over the next few years. Try to give me what I want, and I'll do the same for you. Let's keep talking, and see how it all works out. I love you."

He hugged me back, hopped out, and ran off to celebrate Independence Day.


  1. Anonymous5.7.11

    Ohgawd, independence.... you'll live, and so will they. It's just so freaking difficult sometimes. And on that note, I just found out that my Seattle kid will be here next weekend. (I am cautiously joyful.)

    Ya done well Good Mom.

  2. I think it sets you apart that you recognize that he's going go through a hating-you time but it will be temporary and you don't take it personally.
    I see so many parents who give up at that point.
    My youngest went through that phase twice. She actually shouted that she hated me when she was 3, 4, 5ish. My mom would cringe and try to correct her. I told mom to just let my daughter express her hatred because they were her truest feelings at the time.
    It's hard when one person has power over another person, no matter what the age. But how else could we raise them?
    Sorry about your new clothes.

  3. Wow, Megan, nicely done. Thanks for a good teaching point for me too.

  4. Argh! That has to be so hard, looking at him and thinking "I know you're not a dingbat now act like it!" but realizing that, as a teen, one is contractually obligated to act like a dingbat at least 85% of the time...

    PS Would you mind coming to Illinois and parenting my husband whose mom never made him do anything? Cause last night I asked him to move the baby's shelves out of the kitchen and into the nursery and he said "What shelves?" Uh, the large white wooden thing that's been in the kitchen for two months that I told you had to go in there! "I didn't know what that was. You didn't tell me it was for the baby's room" Hello? Did you have a cognitive or auditory processing problem when I was dating you???

  5. @Judy, Judy, Judy: If you read the sidebar, you will see that annoyance with me starts at a young age. Each time Five points out my faults, I remind him how much I love him! I think he finds it irritating.

    And thanks for noticing the true tragedy in the post-the clothes!

  6. ZOMG, I would have exploded. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you're a stronger woman than I. In the next couple years, when my oldest hit puberty, I'll come back here to see how I should handle it.

  7. @Julie: I hope she makes it! Screw caution-let's just be joyful. It'll tip the scales in your favor.

    @lora: Unfortunately, I have so many dense men here to raise, I don't have any available rehabilitation appointments. I would love to get there, though, after Sweet Pea arrives! That would be worth the trip.

    @Delia: Honestly, it was a little disconcerting to realize Two and I had suddenly entered that phase where we no longer speak the same language. His view of the situation was so completely the opposite of mine, that there was nothing to be gained arguing it. Instead, I remembered how I really, really didn't like following the rules when I was a teenager, and how I hated my mother for imposing them. And we turned out okay in the end.

    If that doesn't work, I recommend Xanax and/or military school.

  8. My 13-year-old is about to turn 14. I am dreading the next couple of years. I've done it with a girl (dear daughter is 21 now) but doing it with a boy scares the shit out of me. I suspect I will be coming here for solace often.

  9. @BarbN: I don't want to generalize, but boys just don't say much, which is the real challenge. At one point in our discussion, I told Two I didn't expect him to be a teenage girl, and call me everyday and talk for twenty minutes about his vacation. Frankly, I don't have the time. But he was required to check in with me at least once or twice. He didn't get it. Deep breaths...

  10. @Megan, yup, that sounds like MadMax all over. :-)

  11. When my niece was a teenager, she went away for a week long trip and promptly went off the grid. My brother finally stealth called her and "suggested" that she call her Mother immediately. I believe that dire consequences were also mentioned. At home, she could be a bit of chatterbox, but I guess teenage girls can be as dingbatty as the boys. Ah youth!


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