Friday, October 16, 2009

Lots of Love... and Good Boundaries

Last night was Ben's birthday. 14 years old. It's hard to imagine my little baby with curls and a big giant smile all the time is 14.

Zachary called around 5pm- he and Walter had been in a car accident. Everyone was fine, but Walter's truck is totaled. For all our problems, our issues, when I pulled up to the truck, saw how wrecked it was, all I wanted to do was hug Zachary- and Walter. You know, Walter may drive me nuts but I love him.

Ben was a little difficult all evening, soaking in his birthday, being mean to his brothers and dropping the F bomb every moment he could. My sister finally said to him at the table, you know, not only would your grandmother have slapped either of us for such language, she would have taken the gifts back.

Ben found that amusing.

Ben also came home with a huge hickie on his neck. When asked about it, he got really defensive and I said, listen, bub, you don't even try to cover it up, you're gonna have to answer some questions about it.

It was just a game, he said.

It's middle school, mom. Kids do this.

You know, I went to middle school... I don't remember that.

Get with the times, mom.

I think I aged an extra ten years. I tried so hard to go with it, not create a big fight, but of course, I couldn't.

Maybe this is why I'm so tired all the time. I'm thinking there is something seriously wrong with me, and I need to make a doctor's appointment but you know, it's just the teen years wearing on me.

That or my constant 3AM wide awake, awake awake awake time. At least the cat is happy to be up with me.'

Remember the quote from that book? I gotta tell you, that shabby hotel is starting to look mighty good.

I love my son. I love him so much. He is a good, sweet boy. I know that. I know deep down he is gentle and kind. All he wants is acceptance from his peers. Very normal for any 14 year old. I try to pick my battles but I find myself pulled into the rabbit hole, and before you know it, I'm yelling, he's yelling, we're angry and nothing good is going to happen. I know what he's struggling with and here I am, a big giant available resource- and until he wants it? It means nothing.

For now, I'm going to give up sugar- any kind of refined sugar- and go to bed early for a few weeks. I'm going to try and convince my tired body that it can run, needs to run, and do it no matter how tired I am. I'm going to count to fifty before I respond to him.

Ten is not nearly long enough.

I'm going to try to keep my heart open and show him how much I love him, as often as I can. I'm going to remember that he and I are very much alike- which means I know a little bit about how to reach him.

Lots of love...

and good boundaries.


Blogger Ms. Moon said...

I think you have the exact right attitude. You just have to keep loving them. They pretend they don't care but oh, they do.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Sue J said...

Having taught middle school for 6 years, all I can say is: Hang in there. It will get better. This is normal.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Ulla said...

My daughter just turned fourteen ten days ago. Hard times. But then her issues are not so bad, I guess, and I try to go with the flow. She's basically very sensible, and even if her mood swings like crazy, she usually come back around to reasonable.
Unusually for me, I have no advice :-) except, perhaps, to stay the coolheaded adult in those fights. He does not need your emotional chaos added to his own.
Good luck and congratulations on the birthday

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Morgan said...

Count to ten, to thirty, to a hundred or count in years. Not having kids, I can't really give any sage advice. I can tell you that right now I am dealing with a high school friend that is laying in the hospital about to die. A good person and so is her son. Every bone in her head is broken, her ear is detached and both arms broken. Her son beat her with a baseball bat. She will lose her life and he will lose his. Their argument? Over a cell phone. I don't understand, none of us do. They also had lots of love and good boundaries. Somewhere in the course of a discussion that turned to an argument, the situation took a turn. We really don't understand...

2:33 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

morgan, you want to come out and give a little tough love speech to ben?

in uniform. and he's 5' 10" now- so maybe with lifts...

6:21 PM  
Blogger Sweat Pea said...

Well... I was a "Ben" at 14. At 14 my mom made me go to school with a purple, fat lip from a kissing session turned into him sucking on my lower lip. And, ya know... she laughed. She told me something I'll never forget, "Don't ever let anyone suck on your lip." And I never, ever have ever, ever again. So just remember to smile and give obvious advice. Someday it will sink in.

3:58 PM  
Blogger phil said...

I love this post. Goes to show the rest of America we're normal people with families, who love, laugh and cry just like everybody else.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Morgan said...

I don't believe tough love speeches work anymore. They use to work as a shock value. Now, our society is bombarded with so much shouting, yelling, violence, "reality TV" that is not reality, there is nothing that shocks.
As adults in these situations with kids, we believe in the end we have the upper hand because we are the authoritarian figure. Our word is the final say. We grew up as such, i.e. respect your elders. In all actuality, as adults, it is our responsibility to realize the moment when the situation is no longer fruitful for the parties involved and to step away. Kids have not gained this concept. We have to have the wisdom they have not learned yet. We stop the argument. We hug them, tell them we love them and that we are frustrated the path this discussion is going. We tell them it will be revisited when everyone is calmer and we walk away. We do this because we do love them and escalation of the scenario does no good.
As I stated early, not having kids, I don't even propose to know any answers. I do know that my interactions in adulthood so many times remind me of junior high all over again. Walking away and revisiting the issue later is not always a choice, but calmer heads make the best decisions in compromises and concensus.

9:09 AM  

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