Friday, December 11, 2015

Moms and teenage boys

Being a mother is not for the faint hearted. The journey is back breaking but let me assure you there are views to melt your heart after you have climbed the hills and crossed the mud. Even in between the cross roads you might catch a butterfly taking flight, if you have the eye for it.

But that is me being poetic, the real version in my house now is slamming of doors, seized gadgets, negotiated homework times and bedtimes, endless pep talks that leave me pepped and the children frozen. When they are not fighting with me they are fighting with each other and then there are the days when dad steps in the game and turns on the heat.

Officially at 13 I have internally declared my son to be a young man. He is hovering over manhood. On certain days he takes massive steps towards independence - both likeable and "flinchable" (I coined that word right now). He comes forward to carry the grocery for me or open doors and pull out the chair which I like, and with equal elan, on other days, he slams the door of his room on my face and stays in bed for hours at end breaking the family rules all at once - flinchable. It is a struggle for sanity and equilibrium. Puberty is a process and does not happen overnight. When I see him as the young man that he is physically, I have to remind myself to also see the child that is not completely gone yet. The two are so blended together, each taking an erratic dominant front that it leaves me confounded.

My husband doesn't understand naps, and associates them with laziness or the elderly.  If my son is in a moving car without distractions, he easily passes out asleep. On weekends, he sleeps till we are tired of him sleeping. I know that I should be worrying about this if he was 29 and living in my basement unemployed and sleeping all day but at 13, his body is telling him it needs more rest. On most days I don't remember this and I assume that the sleep is a reflection of his lack of ambition and end up feeling like the mom of the unemployed 29 year old.

He is a growing boy for sure. The fridge empties in the wink of an eye. He has his "I love.." foods but he is willing to grab anything that his hand can reach and then work his way down the shelves till even the salad dressing is empty. He can cause severe embarrassment in front of guests when I offer them goodies only to find empty packets and jars in the pantry. 

I've always been very open in our home and use the real words for sexual acts and body parts. It seems a long way from this incident and as a mother of a teenage boy I know that at some point, we come to a fork in the road. I can talk about emotions, feelings and respecting your partner. I can also hit on the staying safe parts. The how-to-actually-do-this-stuff questions go to his Dad. Really? They obviously go to his friends or youtube.

My son was one of those kindergartners who had to be carried to school. He thrived on hugs and kisses. Now he walks three steps ahead of us in public.He still freely comes up to me and gives me the odd hug. The difference of course is that he does it when no one is looking. Dads sometimes don't read the signs so well. Unlike other cool dads, his dad can't stay in the stands and watch his game. He is on the field shouting his head off - a source of incessant embarrassment.Parents, as a rule, should assume invisibility when their own teens are around.

He guards his space as furiously as his 16 year old sister. He might not demand it the way she does with a PMS sulk, and being careless and forgetful he might not remember to hide away his personal things beyond the eyes of his helicopter mom, but incidents of him busting me are more than I would like to admit. Previously it was fine to be arranging his things, looking through his books and bed. Now the same action rubs him the wrong way and hell breaks loose.

This is just the start, I am told. It is a long way ahead. The journey of hills and flowers, rains and butterflies is tedious and exhausting. I wish I had the map of Dora and could be as adventurous an explorer as her.