Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Son

To start off, let me just clearly state that I love my son dearly. We can talk about anything under the sun, we have similar senses of humor, enjoy the same sorts of movies, TV shows, books, games, etc.


At 14 years of age, he is proving to be more and more aggravating and worrisome. He hasn't done any BIG bad things, just a little thing here, a small thing there... Not coming home when he's supposed to, not being where he said he was going to be (with friend B, not friend A, etc.), doesn't answer his phone when we call. Little things.

Then this weekend, there was a festival in town, the last big 'party' of the summer. We let him go with some friends, he came home when he was supposed to, everything seemed fine.

Until he breathed on his dad and there was the unmistakable stench of cigarette on his breath. And he lied about it, to his dad and to me. Until we clearly explained that just being near people who are smoking would not concentrate the smell on his breath but not his clothing. So he 'fessed up that he took a couple of puffs from a stranger's cigarette.

He's on restriction now (can't go to friends homes or out with friends, but they can come here, staying in our house and yard or out in the court), after being talked to by DH and I together and separately. No yelling or screaming, not even by DH, just calm talking about how dangerous such activities are, how trying one thing just to try it or attempt to fit in could lead to more and more dangerous choices, how much heartache there would be if he got involved in said activities. He was tearing up as I talked to him about how much we loved him and how hurt we would be if he tried drugs or alcohol or any other illegal and dangerous activities. That we were only doing these things because we love him.

He's not happy with the restriction. We're all prepared for the whining and complaining he's going to be putting out there until we lift it. I have told him that if his attitude gets too bad, the restriction will become a complete grounding and he will lose his phone and Internet privileges and won't be allowed to have friends over. We'll have to see how he does.

And, this brings us to today. YC was complaining about not feeling well this morning, so I wanted to take her temperature. A couple of weeks ago, I asked MC to put a thermometer in the kids bathroom ~~ guess what? Not there.

So I looked in OC's room ~~ found papers she was supposed to turn into school, but no thermometer and nothing else that shouldn't be there. And I wasn't really digging, just looked on her desk, on her bedside table, in a desk drawer.

Next stop, MC's room. And there I found MY calligraphy set with all the ink cartridges empty; MY scissors; MY desk organizing box; a bottle of dried oregano (?); knife/scissor sharpener; and the real concern ~~ MY book Breaking the Girl (which I found in the bookcase at the head of his bed).

And so you know, I do not just leave my 'special' books lying around for anyone to see, find, take. They are tucked into cases, onto shelves, behind other vanilla books. Places where they won't be easily seen or found, all in my room. And yet, he had this book in his room....

So, now all those things are sitting on the end of my bed, waiting for him to come home so I can discuss with him how inappropriate it is for a 14 year old to take things from his parents room. I know it's one of those subjects that is unequal ~~ I can search through his room, he can't search through mine ~~ but he's got to understand how wrong it is to take anything from my room, but especially to take a book like that. Aaaggghhh.

Now I can't help but wondering what else he might have stashed away in there that I didn't see. Yeah, it's going to be a wonderful afternoon.


padme amidala said...

Hi Robin,
I can completely sympathize with you. I have a teen girl aged 14 who just went into grade 9. She has skipped out of school and tried drinking with her friends and a few other things but it's a constant worry for me. Teens are very stressful! I don't know why I ever complained about the baby stage. That seems so easy compared to the teen years. :)

Robin said...

Hi padme ~~ I know we all want intelligent independent children, but then when they assert that independence it's frightening. I realize he's going to want to try things, but at 14... I told him if he was 17 almost 18, this would be a different situation. But he's only 14, way to young to get involved in this crap. And taking the cig from a stranger? How did he know it was a real cig, and not laced with anything dangerous? My experience with boys is that the more of them together, the less brain there is (1 boy = 1 brain, 2 boys = 1/2 brain, 4+ boys = no brain at all). He does have a friend who got in trouble for trying pot (parents made him go to clinic). A's first reaction when MC told him about the restriction was to punch MC a couple of times in the shoulder. So he does have friends to help keep him on the right path.
It's just hard.
Thanks for reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Now I can't help but wondering what else he might have stashed away in there that I didn't see. Yeah, it's going to be a wonderful afternoon.

What about the things he found (in your room) looked at, perhaps handled, and then returned? Anything that might require further 'explanation' to a curious teenage boy?

Robin said...

Anonymous ~~ Yes, it's a concern that he was potential snooping in our room. But he also knows that he if has questions, he can come to me. I am not going to give him intimate details about *my* sex life (although I have nothing to be ashamed of, have told the kids repeatedly that sex is a natural part of life, and really, he's savvy enough to figure most of it out on his own), but I'm not going to shut him down for asking. I'll tell him just enough, what I think is appropriate.
That said, my bigger concern is his feeling that he can just take whatever he wants, regardless of where he found it or who it belongs to. Does he take things from friends, from school, from stores? Respect of others and their property, not stealing is the bigger issue here.

Anonymous said...

Robin my dear, I sympathize and empathize with you. Sir and I had 3 kids, all teens at the same time (2 girls, 1 boy). The trials and tribulations of raising kids are legendary, but having teens are the cross and burden we bare and at the same time it is a wondrous experience to watch these little people grow and bloom and develop into adults. The will always test their limits as I am sure you already know. And of course, curiosity about sex is natural, especially in boys of that age. As for things taken without permission from your room, especially certain items that you hid but were discovered,I can only tell you that yes, kids, even teens not only need but want limitations.It gives them security and a sense that we as parents love and care for them and about what they do...even enough to prevent them from harming themselves or doing things that can later lead to wrong behavior. But you know all of this too I am sure. Whatever you both decide, just make sure to reinforce that you love, care and are concerned for your child(ren). Yes, you're right, it's hard to say don't go into my room without permission when you go into their rooms. But they are children and therefore need guidance. You are an adult and being such you need, deserve and have earned such privacy. There are no hard and fast, right and wrong rules about raising children. Everyone has an opinion. The only thing we all agree on is them love, let them know whatever you do is out of love. Good luck honey. I send positive thoughts your way.

Robin said...

Hi Pink Poppet ~~ Kids, what're ya gonna do?

I can remember finding my dad's stash of, um, interesting items, when I was quite a bit younger than my son (they were in a shoe care kit, hidden in his bedroom closet, supposedly where no young child would ever find them). And if my dad ever noticed, he never said anything.

We talked about it. He didn't get defensive at all about my going in his room. He admitted taking everything and feeling especially uncomfortable about the book. I have hundreds of more appropriate books he can read, he just needs to work with me on what his options are.

I didn't attack him, he didn't attack me, it was all handled calmly and civilly. He's very much at that age where explanation and discussion (while sticking to my guns) works much better than a yelling, screaming attack.

3 teens at one time? 2 is more than enough for me :p. (Part of why I never wanted to teach above the elementary level.) With luck, patience, and love, we will all come out the other side just fine.


Mina said...

Hi Robin, sounds like you are having some very trying times and yet handling it with amazing grace and fortitude.

Well done.


Sara said...

Robin, I am sorry you are going through this! Adolescence is why we get old and gray. They simply wear us out! It all sounds scary and yet very 'normal'. It also sounds like you have a really good open relationship and have handled it really well! As a mom of a 17, 21 and 23 yr old, I can only say, just hang in there!

Dave The Rave said...


I grew up in the 60's and 70's when rules were meant to be followed. We did err from time to time, but nothing like what you mentioned.

The only time we knowingly "took stuff" was when we ransacked the house when my parents were away and we found our Christmas gifts. We opened them and then put thm back in the box. I was a stamp collector and could take tape off and back on as if it was not messed up at all.

If we saw something else, we ignored it. My brother took liberty with my father's bar and never learned his lesson. I can't drink that stuff and never did. He never even got scolded. Oh, well.

So, just be "fair, yet firm". set limits, enforce them and make the kid realize who is in charge.


Robin said...

Mina, Sara, and David,
Thanks for stopping by and for the support and advice.

Raising kids to be good members of society while keeping your own sanity is one of the toughest jobs there is. Fortunately there are more good days than there are bad.


patricia said...

OMG - my son is twelve...and reading this I suddenly got a "vision" of life two years from now (oh, if there is any mercy in the world, please, no!)

I feel for you though - I know most of my friends in high school snuck into their parents room and found all sorts of interesting stuff (recalling one friend who found BDSM materials, she was shocked and shaking - but it turned out she felt a lot more comfortable coming to her mother for sex advice afterward!) It seems to be a normal right of passage - I don't recall doing that much, but then again, my mom was an alcoholic and I didn't think there would be anything to find.

I found a pic online that strongly reminded me of you, with the red bottom - I am going to post it to my twitter account, here's hoping you see it!