I didn’t realize just how long it’s been since I’ve posted here. Yes, I’ve been AWOL. Trying to get my head together kinda’ does that. As in any journey through recovery, we always make new discoveries. Yesterday I didn’t just stumble across one; no… it was a brick wall I ran into at full speed – and it wasn’t about me. It was about my kid.
My son is sixteen years old today. My baby boy – no – my young man, is sixteen.
Remember sixteen, and all that came with it? I had so much fun at sixteen….
I won’t go on again about that tiny bundle I held so many years ago. I write about my son every year, and that seems to make it into the story every time. A mom will treasure that moment for a lifetime, but at some point her child does grow up.
As proud as I am of my boy, the thought makes me a bit wibbly (and, yes, he will always be my “boy”, no matter how old he is).
I’ve been writing a birthday journal entry about my son since he was seven. Most of them are in my private journal. I’ve looked at all of them today because I’m truly at a loss for what to say on his sixteenth birthday.
I could pour all the motherly love and memories in the world into my entry, but that doesn’t convey what it means to be sixteen, nor does it make this day stand out from any other day. I love him just as much the rest of the year ‘round. I could write “a letter to my sixteen-year-old-self” for my son to read, in hopes of saving him the troubles I experienced and mistakes I made, but the maternal curse is real and he is living proof. He would nod and smile, feign attention, but take it with more than just a grain of salt, because it comes from his mother (as healthy as our relationship may be). He has to see for himself.
So, after sixteen years, I find myself looking at the young man I’ve raised. I’m the luckiest mother in the world and couldn’t ask for a better son.
Happy Birthday, my teenboy. I hope you have as much fun at sixteen as I did. Well…. maybe not that much fun. 😉
I couldn’t have planned this better if I tried. Seriously.
It was 25 degrees Fahrenheit this morning (factoring in the wind chill, it felt like 11 degrees). For those using Celsius, that’s a temperature of about -4, and it felt something like -11 or -12.
The Teenboy has been on winter break for a couple of weeks. Yesterday he made sure to have all his laundry done because I’d been telling him, “You have to get your sleep cycle back on track. School starts back up on Monday.” He set his alarm this morning, dragged himself out of his nice, warm bed, got dressed, and went out to wait for the school bus. One of his friends was there with him.They noticed no other kids were there. At. All.
No busses either.
It was dead quiet. The only sound was the sound of their teeth chattering. His friend finally called his dad, who checked the school calendar. Oops! No school today – it’s a teacher work day. School starts tomorrow!
My Teenboy walks home and gets a hot cup of coffee. He tells me this story and I give him a hug. He pays me back with cold hands on the back of my pajamas. “You’re warm…” he says in his most pitiful voice. “AAAAAAHHHHGHGHGHG!!!!” I reply.
The teenboy is learning how to drive. He’s taking his behind-the-wheel classes, but those do need to be reinforced with practice sessions. Unfortunately, those practice sessions involve me and my car. This brings to mind a song from the ’80’s by the Fine Young Cannibals. I always changed the gender when I sang this song. This morning, as I recall yesterday’s driving adventure, it’s running through my head:
He drives me crazyLike no one elseHe drives me crazyAnd I can’t help myself
Really, I must say, for a beginning driver, the teenboy is doing an excellent job. But when we backed out of the driveway yesterday and he forgot to put the car into Drive, he did one of those “drive-it-like-you-stole-it” moves. He did a perfect horseshoe with my tight turning radius, putting the back two tires up on the curb.
This was the only time a scream passed through my lips. Unfortunately, it came with words that sounded something like “What the f*** are you doing?!?!?”
He seemed to be just as panicked at the moment.
I then had to keep myself from laughing when he put the hazard lights on, safely pulled out in the direction we needed to go, then turned the hazards off. Do they teach that in Driver’s Ed now?
Mental note, he hasn’t made many mistakes but when he does they scare the bejeezus out of me. At least he only pulls stunts like that once, they scare the bejeezus out of him, too, and he learns from the experience. We’re able to get to our nearby destination, discuss what happened and he can tell me exactly what went wrong and what happened right before that to cause it.
So, what happened right before that to cause his distraction, making him forget to put the car into Drive?
Backing out of our driveway, everything was clear. However, he’s a new driver and he’s moving slow. A car started approaching from one direction. He got nervous. He had the “I-need-to-get-out-of-here” reaction. Unfortunately, he skipped a step. We talked about what happens when you panic behind the wheel and how bad that could have been if we were on a busy street vs. just outside our driveway. Lesson learned.
He quickly recovered from said incident and made it to the busy grocery store without further issues.
He navigated the H.E.B. parking lot without hitting any pedestrians.
He parked the car perfectly!
Unshaken by the crazy people trying to find a parking space in the H.E.B. parking lot, he drove home.
The Teenboy’s behind the wheel courses start this Monday. We reviewed the scheduled appointments this month for 3 of his 7 behind-the-wheel classes. The remaining sessions will occur after our trip to Dallas. Of course, he asked if he’ll get to drive part of the way to Dallas. I said no. His freeway classes aren’t until his 6th or 7th class.
“But mom, there might be a clear straight-a-way for a bit.”
I’ve only got the one teen, but I’ve been assured this is a normal phase for his age. Regardless, I believe it’s important that as parents, we teach responsibility to our kids early. When they start taking ownership for the little things now, it only makes things easier when they get out there in the real world as adults.
There are times I find myself … frustrated with my teenboy.
He is 15. At his age, we should not have to remind him about the little things, like things he’s responsible for around the house on a regular basis, or, oh… basic hygiene.
As parents, we have to take ownership in this problem, too. We’ve fallen into the trap of reminding him to take care of these things for far too long. As I recall saying to my sister at the age of 14 when she asked me why I kept forgetting to take my seizure control medications, “Why should I remember? Everyone keeps reminding me.” I was a snotty little teen back then. But at least I smelled good. Why anyone put up with that attitude back then I have no idea…
But I digress.
We’re doing now what someone should have done for me back then. We’re laying out clear expectations.
The boy has a week to adjust, and then he’s on his own. If he doesn’t take responsibility for what’s on his list, he loses privileges (the cell phone we pay for, internet access we pay for, etc…). He enjoys writing and I won’t take that away, but he can write old-style, with pen and paper. I figure one or two times and this won’t be an issue anymore.
The list he has on his door and on the fridge:
Some may think this is a bit harsh; however, the teenboy does have an excuse or an argument for delaying, not doing, or forgetting to do everything. We aren’t shutting him down from communication. We want him to communicate proactively. We also want him to communicate if an issue arises (for example, technical difficulties with the washer). Taking ownership of “I forgot” and admitting one’s mistakes is also an important part of growing up.
I have a teen boy. No, let me rephrase that. I have a surly teen boy. Yes, he has a sense of humor, and I’m sure he laughs among his friends, but mom and dad are rarely funny. On weekends, when it is time to clean house, he goes about with such a scowl on his face. One would think his face would crack if he smiled.
I realize this is all a part of being a teenager, but every now and then I hit the point where I’ve had enough surliness for one day. Today was one of those days. I’ve always believed laughter is the best medicine. I just had to figure out how to get him to take it.
How, you ask? Well, in this case, I had to approach things with his sense of humor – dry and deadpan.
Me: You weren’t feeling well the other day and you’ve been complaining of headaches every now and then. I think I know what’s wrong.
Teen boy: What?
Me: You’ve got “Opticanicus”. You have all the classic textbook symptoms. I’m no doctor, but that’s what it sounds like to me.
Teen boy: Huh???
Me: Yeah… Unfortunately, if I’m right, they can only correct it surgically. They have to sever the optic nerve you’ve got connected to your anus so you get rid of your crappy outlook on life.
Yesterday was a school holiday for both the teenboy and me. This gave me a chance to catch up on a huge chunk of the projects I have due. The teenboy had downtime, so he invited a friend over to the house. She’s very nice. This was an interesting observation in teenage social interactions. They insist they are “just friends”, but for two teenagers who are “just friends” they are constantly flirting with each other.
But that’s just my perspective, I suppose. We all have our perspectives.
At one point yesterday I crossed through to the kitchen to grab a snack (one must eat when working on projects). Teengirl was admiring the décor of our home, but I heard her mutter under her breath, “rich…”.
I suppose that was her perspective…
I said to her, “Excuse me?” She tried pulling the “oh, nothing” on me, but I did confront her on it. I asked her if she just called us “rich”. For some reason that offended me (I’ll go into that in a moment). She ‘fessed up and blushed a bit. I smiled and put her at ease. I told her we are far from “rich”. I’m not working. We’re just lucky my car is paid for and we don’t have much debt. Mr. Magick Man doesn’t like to pay retail for anything, so most of what she sees we get wholesale. If you shop around you get excellent prices. You don’t want to just impulse buy the first thing you find.
She lives in a lower income neighborhood not far from our home. I told her I grew up in a neighborhood just like that. We called it the barrio. “Where you live doesn’t determine who you are.”
Now. Why was I offended because she called me “rich”? That took me by surprise. Was it because I grew up in the barrio? Is it because we’re a single-income family? We’re making ends meet, but a single-income family doesn’t have extra income for luxuries in this economy. I keep going back to the old neighborhood, though… is a part of me proud of being that barrio girl? Does a part of me identify with that?
The Teenboy’s birthday was last Tuesday. We told him he could have a gaming weekend with the guys this weekend. You know – invite them over on Friday night, game all weekend, and everyone goes home on Sunday.
Everything got started around 8-ish. We ordered pizza and enough soda for everyone. Not just any pizza, mind you. We have a local pizza place that makes the cheap, greasy, thin-crust-loaded-with-meat-and-cheese pizza, just like you remember from your college days. I fondly refer to their double-pepperoni as the “artery-clogging special”.
As parents, we did what any parents would do in this given situation: we retreated to the back of the house, leaving the teens in the front room to game all night. And up all night they were… When I awoke the next morning, half of them were still awake and going (mine being one of them). The others had crashed on the sofa.
Remember when you could stay up all night and not feel the effects the next day? Yeah… me too…
I went out to get kolaches for breakfast. Came back with the best kolaches you’ll find in our area. Three Brothers Bakery makes their kolaches with challah and they are sooooo good! Those who were asleep woke from the dead just to eat something, then they all got back to gaming for a bit. Around noon, those who hadn’t slept yet crashed out and the others continued. It was like they were sleeping in shifts.
By this time I’d started on the spaghetti sauce for dinner. It has to cook all day to taste just right, you know… Then there was the cake.
Chocolate cake and candied bacon cake? Oh, they threw themselves on that grenade.
Gaming continued through the night last night, but they didn’t pull another all-nighter. Perhaps it was all the carbs and sugar that got to them. I woke this morning to find a house full of unconscious teenboys. I made coffee, proceeded to make breakfast for myself, and fed the dogs. None of these are the most quiet of tasks, because of the acoustics of the house. They’re still asleep.
This weekend has brought back so many gaming memories for me. Yeah, I was a gaming nerd, too. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, you know. Before my teenboy was a gleam in my eye, I used to game every weekend. We’d start on Friday night, pull those all-nighters, game through until Sunday. I hosted the thing at my place. I fed everyone (it was a huge group, now that I look back on things). We’d usually do a spaghetti dinner or something along those lines. We rarely used miniatures in our gaming, but when we fought monsters, we did lay things out with M&Ms. The DM was always good about giving a visual representation of the battle. And, of course, when you killed the monster, you got to eat it. To this day, I still refer to M&M’s as “monsters”. 🙂
Alas, today my monster is a graphic design assignment. For the time being, my house is quiet. Time for me to switch gears and do battle with my homework. Good day, everyone!