Stories and thoughts about family and life


on February 23, 2014

I had always heard the teenage years were trying–I just never really appreciated that completely, I suppose. And holy cow, because mine only became a teenager about 30 days ago! From the placating responses to no responses at all. From rushing through something just to have it finished to walking at a snail’s pace with only one item in one hand. I’m understanding now my friends with older children who swore their teenagers were trying to either gray all their hair, or perhaps send them to an early grave.

I am trying to keep this in the proper perspective, but it’s growing increasingly challenging. My younger child had colic when he was a baby, and was a bit difficult. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was 15 months old. We had potty-training challenges with my older child, due to a medical condition he had at the time. None of those are very serious, alone, but put a couple of them together and you would swear the year is never going to end!

We’ve been blessed with a pretty good run for the past couple of years. Oh, there have been stressful periods, of course, but they’ve been short-lived. Generally a month or two and we work ourselves out again. This year I feel like I’ve fought with my now teenager for the entire school year. I’ve grown to hate school probably even more than they do. I long for the lazy summer days where I still work, but the kids get to hang out with me at the office and play. Those days where we pack up and leave work and go to the local water park and wind down our evenings and prepare to do it all over again tomorrow, or take a few days away and do something fun and interesting. I’d like to blame this recent attitude Luke and I both have on the winter blues, but I don’t think those actually start as early as September.

I recognize he’s coming into his own, and I’m trying to give him the freedom and the flexibility to do that. I’m also trying to ensure he’s a productive member of his class and our family. I remember one of his teachers in an earlier grade telling me that she knew he understood the material, but that he didn’t see the point in burdening himself with the homework if he understood it, and he was doing great on his tests. The challenge is getting a kid like that to understand that the work still has to be done anyway. I wasn’t that kind of student, so I can’t appreciate whatever is going on in his head right now. I went to school, did my work in class, did my homework without my parents having to get involved, and delivered decent grades. I could have been a better student, perhaps, but I enjoyed myself for the most part and I accomplished my studies. My parents were happy and my grades were what was expected of me (except in Math–oh how I struggled with Math). Luke, however, has Math down. I wish I had understand just a quarter of how this kid understands the subject. There’s no telling what I would have been able to do with my life!

We’ve tried all the regular approaches: punish, praise for good behavior, grounding, and removal of privileges. He did something similar to this in the fifth grade for a few weeks and I even went to class with him, sitting next to him and watching him and being sure to kiss him repeatedly in the hallway and hold his hand as we walked. Remarkably enough, I didn’t have much trouble out of him the rest of that school year. I also had more time that year to go and do that kind of thing. Nothing gets his attention for long, but it looks like he might be in for another mom visit to the school.

Both boys were on a Scout campout this weekend. I didn’t want to let Luke go, but it was his brother’s first campout and I wanted him to be there to support him. Besides, by the time we had reached 5 p.m. on Friday, I thought we could both do with some time away from each other. I decided to clean the house and use my time to get my spring cleaning started and enjoy the task. As I started through each boy’s room, I became less and less pleased. From items under the bed to clothes not where they should be, to food stashed or empty containers around, I was seriously unamused. I thought a lot about how I would deal with the correction of these issues and the school challenges simultaneously. One of my mom friends was getting a real chuckle out of me as I shared pictures and we talked about what I might do next.

As my sister-in-law and I talked this afternoon, and she relayed similar stories, I thought more about the predicament we’re both in. Her son is only five days younger than Luke. They’re four hours apart and they don’t speak unless we’re all together (they’re not on the phone, Facebook, chatting/texting, etc.). She is having almost identical problems to mine, except that her son is back-talking more than mine. She joked that once the testosterone spikes in their little bodies they seem to forget about valuing self-preservation and try to push their mothers to the limit. We had a good laugh as we shared stories of what each kid has done in the past few weeks, and it was eerie the resemblance of the two, regardless of them being separated by distance and environment as they are. Luke’s cousin is home-schooled, so they don’t have to hear from the teacher about missed assignments–they have to fight with him during the day to get him to finish. It was illuminating to me to see the exact issues I’m having with a different spin on them. It made me think about the word testosterone, and how maybe there was some hidden meaning in the tests these kids will put their parents through!

My boys and I had a long talk this afternoon on the way home from their campout. Hopefully we’ve come to some understanding about how things will be. I doubt this will be the last of the frustration, but I’m hoping the “test” period for me won’t be long and we’ll get back to some level of normalcy. If not, I may be asking you all to come visit me at the local psych hospital.


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