Sunday, September 9, 2012

At Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

I don't know what to tell you about today.  Should I tell you how I walked really fast when we went to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail with the dog so that Mike and Nick had to work to stay ahead of me while they ran?  Nick was proud of himself for winning though I'm a pretty fast walker these days.  Should I tell you how I managed to get my boy to work with an older Scout to help organize the Iron Chef competition they're having on Tuesday night?  It involved making a couple of phone calls.  Oh man, this kid hates talking on the phone.  You should see him when his grandma calls.  Still, he called the older Scout back and even had an idea of what to do with the list of ingredients.  The prize is a gift certificate for each boy in the patrol for Scott's Dairy Freeze in North Bend.  I love that place, but their food is junk food at its best.  Ha!  The irony, giving them junk food for winning the cooking competition.  Good one Mike.

So those are the good mom items.  I think I got two good-mom points for those.

But then there's the way I ignored Nick for five whole minutes while I played my game on my iPhone to show him how it felt when he did the same thing to me.  I just wanted to point out the cat lying on the dashboard of the car as we left the restaurant.  You just don't see cats in cars all that often.  I had also tried to carry on a conversation with him at dinner at the Raging River Cafe about maybe using all this running training to build up to running in a 5K competition.  I mean, isn't it good to set goals? 

Don't try to set goals with a boy who's head is lost in an iPhone game.  Hell, I like my iPhone games too, but I don't ignore people who are talking to me when I'm out to dinner.  Eventually, I took Mike's phone away from Nick.

Ignoring him?  I think I lost a point there. 

Then, there's the fact that almost everything with this boy, anything that has to do with him taking care of himself, participating, or helping, has become contentious between us.  Mike would let him go a couple of days without showering, but I don't want him to become known as the smelly kid.

Whoops!  I just lost my last point by complaining out loud about my son.  No good mom complains about her children these days.  It's in bad form.  Sorry.

Now, I'm down to a zero.  I get no points.  I'm exhausted from the constant resistance.  And Nick still didn't take a shower today. 

On Facebook, I put on a good show, but in real life, I have to push Nick to read, to bathe, to floss his teeth, to help carrying groceries, to eat a healthy diet, to stick with the sports he signed up for, to send thank you notes for gifts he is given, to go to bed so that he'll have slept enough to get through a day of school.  I'm exhausted. 

I wish I knew the truth.  Do other moms really get through the day without enduring these battles?  Do they have patience with their boys and never lower themselves to treating them badly to show them what it feels like? Last year, teachers said that their goal was to get the kids to take ownership of their lives.  Great plan, but Nick wasn't doing anything on his own.  He still isn't.  So, I'm supposed to let go of it all?  I shouldn't care if he skips showers, if he eats junk and never gets up from the television,?  I shouldn't blink if he doesn't do a bit of homework, if he gets gum disease the way his grandpa did and loses his teeth at the age of 23?  I shouldn't care if he never reads another book in his life? 

Oh man, I am not good at this part, this letting it all go part.  I don't have good examples to go by either.  My life was in shambles when I was Nick's age.  I worked desperately to hold it together, though it didn't hold together anyway.  Oh, I got good grades.  I didn't rebel, but the rest of it fell apart.  So, here we are at opposite ends of the spectrum, Nick and I.  I lived in totally different diorama at Nick's age.

I was an independent adolescent, often walking a four blocks from school to piano lessons, then walking back past school and on up the hill to the hospital.  There I'd wait in the lobby an uncertain amount of time until waiting hours were over and my family came down from my dad's room and took me home.  You got it, when I was Nick's age, my dad was taking the long road toward dying of cancer.  I practically lived in the hospital lobby, doing my homework, eating vending machine food for dinner, reading my book, trying out each of the different seats to see which was the most comfortable.  My favorite spot was a leatherette chair three sizes too big for me next to a palm tree that nearly sheltered me from the comings and goings at the nurse's desk.  I wasn't allowed past that desk and I'd stopped asking.  I could go up when I turned fourteen.  I never left home without at least two of the books I'd checked out from the library.  At that age, I'd often walk the five blocks to the library after school before walking back up the hill, knowing that I had a couple of hours to kill before I was expected in the hospital lobby.  There was a lot of freedom to that life, but it wasn't freedom I'd wanted just then.

Yes, I was quite an independent girl when I was twelve, though in the long run, it didn't solve anything except my family's dilemma about how to get me home after piano lessons. 

Nick has no idea.  Maybe it's time I start telling him my story. 

Thank you for listening, jb


  1. Julie, it was so different when we were growing up.Times were different and so were the conditions.Our parents did not offer the world on a platter to us.But we are doing it for our kids.Nice homes,latest gadgets, holidays and can we expect them to be as independent and responsible as we used to be!I know its frustrating to watch them slide so often but its not their fault, entirely.They are getting too much without having to work for it- don't expect them to value what they have....Alas, there is no readymade solution for this; I guess every mom is dealing with the same situation-you are not alone.
    But,if you stress yourself out in Nick's early teenage years, you are in for a very long battle!I suggest you relax a bit and let him be, from time to time.Its not the end of the world if they don't take a shower once in a while...we need to chill out,too.They will never be responsible till they know we take their responsibility all the time!... They are going to be alright, just wait for these crucial years to pass when they just love doing the opposite of what we tell them.With time, they will learn.Meanwhile, relax and find time for yourself.Its your life,too :)