Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: Turn it down! October 29, 2010

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Any parent of a teenager is probably all to familiar with the habits of their offspring – enclosed in their bedroom, prostrate on the floor or bed, laptop computer locked permanently to Facebook, mobile phone beside them with the constant sound of incoming text messages, and the blaring of 200 decibels of their favourite music!

We have long ago given up insisting on an open door policy in our house – why I hear you ask?  Because it just makes the music even louder!  And then it’s even harder for my daughter to try to go to sleep!  My men-children don’t seem at all interested when I scream at them to turn it down, and when they do it’s by such a small amount I wonder why I bother.  Pity our poor neighbours – I can almost hear the dulcet tones of whichever rapper and his delightful language (yes the F-word seems to be common these days) from the top of our street as I arrive home.  And I know that Man-Child II once tested out his fathers original Pioneer speakers complete with multiple woofers and sub-woofers at such volume he tore holes in the padding.  Clearly we weren’t home!

As my readers may know, we are currently extending upstairs to make further room for our teenage sons.  Man-Child I and II will have their own zone upstairs, with a bedroom each, shared living room and bathroom.  As building progresses, the excitement is palpable.  I was chatting to the builder the other day, who wanted to discuss the insulation under the new flooring on the second level.  He enquired if we were interested in special sound-proofing insulation, having heard the boys music on a daily basis after school (poor bloke – he might have increased his fees if he’d known he had to suffer that hideous music!).  I had to chuckle to myself, as I recall jokingly suggesting special sound-proofing for upstairs in an earlier blog (along with concrete floors to hose down, and a laundry-cum-meal delivery shoot so the boys wouldn’t even have to come downstairs at all).

Well we have now had a special delivery of super-sonic, heavy-duty, rapper repellant, man-child proof insulation for upstairs.  What a brilliant invention.  And the best $800 I’ve ever spent.  That should make us all happy, except perhaps me, because now when I scream “DINNER” from the kitchen they won’t be able to hear me.  Oh well, I’ll just send them a text message!   LOL.



Mother of a Man-Child: R.E.S.P.E.C.T…..? October 22, 2010

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I am sure you all know the Aretha Franklin song – “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  Want to know what it means to me? “ etc.   As a child of the 80’s disco era I am all too familiar with that song, and spent my early youth singing it at the top of my lungs and dancing enthusiastically to it.  Unfortunately it seems, my men-children are not at all familiar with the song, and indeed it’s message.

At the risk of sounding exactly like my parents, my children just don’t seem to have respect for their elders the way we did when I was younger (OMG, did I really say that?).  Take my boys.  I am sure they show an appropriate level of respect to their teachers at school – I certainly hope so, and since I haven’t heard otherwise I will assume so.  In an all boys school they’re pretty strict on how you address teachers, and how you behave, so I think that’s probably pretty well-managed.  However on the home front it seems to be a different kettle of fish.

For some unknown reason, my sons have taken to calling their father “Neville” (his real name is Rob, but to them it should simply be “Dad” of course).  Now I am not sure how this started, but recently it seems to have escalated out of control; where once I think Neville may have been a term of endearment, I now often wonder if in fact it’s a derogatory term?  This may have originated from the nicknames that my husband gave the boys, and in turn they decided upon one for him (fair enough I hear you say).  And whilst you could call it senseless fun, male bonding, etc etc, I often overhear the way they use his nickname, and cringe at it. Of course once you’ve allowed this sort of thing to go on for a while, it’s a little hard to stop it – the name has stuck!

So what’s in a name?  It is the fact they call him Neville?  Or the lack of respect that underpins their behaviour?  Am I perceiving one issue to mask another?  Are they just being normal teenagers?  Does it stem from our home environment?  After all, they say children just reflect their own parents behaviour – GULP!  Clearly I don’t have all the answers.

Interestingly, I don’t have a nickname – at least not a definitive one they use to my face unless you consider “Pyscho-Woman” a nickname?  So do they respect me any more than their father?  Probably not if the truth be known.

On reflection I suspect it’s a case of typical teenage attitude – they apparently know everything, we apparently know absolutely nothing, having never been teenagers, or had pimples, or boyfriends/girlfriends, or been in trouble at school, or snuck out late at night.  I guess I can respect that for now.  🙂


Mother of a Man-Child: Fond Farewells October 16, 2010

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Like most teenagers, my men-children spend their weekends out and about with friends, in preference to being at home (especially if the “rents” (parents) are about!).   We are lucky if we even find out when they are leaving the house, let alone where they might be going, with whom, and when they’ll return (normally for dinner – after all a bloke’s gotta eat right?).

Their logic would no doubt be “got a mobile, you want to find me, call it” or some such pragmatic but utterly unthinking response.  And on school mornings it’s much the same – out the door they go.  It’s only good fortune if they happen to pass you and grunt a farewell as they make their exit.  I of course always make a point of loudly saying “Bye (insert name)” so they get the message – subtle aren’t I?

So on a recent trip interstate for four nights, it was interesting to observe the different farewells afforded to me.  Man-Child I headed off with friends on the weekend, and was apparently reminded to say goodbye to me before he left by his father.  As I was on the phone myself I got a cursory wave from my son as he talked into his mobile – yep, CYA!  Wow, impressive huh?  More than a little underwhelming, and actually a little surprising from him.

Man-Child II headed out the door a few hours later.  As he saw me he muttered “CYA” as normal.  Then I reminded him I was going away for four nights and to “be good for dad and kind to your sister”.  My heart positively leapt as he walked back in the door and gave me an awkward hug, and said sweetly “Bye Mum, have a good trip”.  OMG, he actually hugged me, voluntarily, and wished me luck.  WOW!  There should be more of it – definitely.  It warms the cockles of the heart.

I rang Man-Child I later on his mobile just before I headed off to the airport.  When I commented on his earlier farewell, he admitted he’d only thought about my extended absence when he got to the tram – that was when he realized what his father had been banging on about!  Clearly one needs to be very specific with teenage boys – they just don’t connect the dots sometimes do they (or is that a bloke thing also)?  Anyway, he then wished me a great trip and assured me he’d be good.

So I left Melbourne feeling like I would be missed just a little, and confident they would all survive my absence (a couple of freezer meals ensured they wouldn’t starve at least).  Of course my darling daughter gave me 500 hugs before I left, because at seven years old they still believe you are the most clever, important, wonderful person in the whole world.  🙂


Mother of a Man-Child: The Masters of Low Maintenance October 10, 2010

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As the mother of two teenage boys I find it interesting to observe their “practical” approach to all things related to clothing.  It’s definitely the low maintenance variety for my two.  Unlike my young daughter who already changes her outfits several times a day on the weekends, boys are more likely to wear the same thing for several days – until it walks itself to the laundry!

Some examples:

  • They only wash clothing if you ask them to clean their rooms or literally collect items off the floor.   Otherwise they would leave them there indefinitely – I kid you not!
  • In Man-Child II’s case, if you don’t wash it in time he will happily retrieve it from the dirty clothes’ basket, for another wear or five.  What’s a little bit of dirt anyway?  Doesn’t deodorant cover up everything?
  • Man-Child I recently added his school jumper to the washing basket.  When I asked if it was actually dirty after only three days of wear in term four, he explained it was “ages” since it had been washed.  Yes, you guessed it, the recent three-week school holiday wasn’t a good time to have it laundered!  It obviously spent that time in his bag, probably alongside some moldy sandwiches – gross!
  • I noticed an unfamiliar pair of runners at home this week.  It seems the common practice at school is if someone leaves something unattended, it’s finder/keepers.  So Man-Child I is the temporary owner of a pair of second-hand runners (hence we bought him some new ones today).  When I asked if this happens often, they assured me only if you left stuff lying around at school (no doubt the evolutionist Darwin would think it was perfectly normal behaviour).
  • We also seem to have an odd assortment of spare jocks at our house, destined never to be returned to their owners.  I am constantly assured that they were “gifts” – I certainly hope new and not second-hand.
  • And I am regularly washing other boys jumpers that my men-children have borrowed.  On the average weekend they leave home ill prepared for Melbourne’s four seasons in one day so invariably return with additional belongings.  What annoys me most is when I wash them ready for returning to their rightful owner only to see my son wearing it again.  Grrrr.

You may be thinking, don’t sweat the small stuff.  What does it matter – I don’t have to wear their dirty clothing?  And if it’s not washed because it hasn’t made it to the laundry, it’s not my problem is it – they’ll soon learn where the laundry is?  And if random clothing enters our house – again, not for me to worry about.

My problem is I like clean – clean boys, clean clothes and clean bedroom floors.  It goes with my clean house.  Ask anyone who knows me – I don’t like mess, I like my orderly, organized life.  Oh well – we can’t all be perfect can we.  🙂


Mother of a Man-Child: Bereft of Brain Cells? October 1, 2010

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Sometimes I wonder about my men-children, and whether or not their brains have completely departed their bodies temporarily.  The say that the effect of the raging hormones in teenagers bodies can have certain physiological impacts, such as partial deafness (actually I think that’s a long-term male condition called “selective hearing”), or that gangly awkwardness you see in boys whose limbs are growing faster than they should, and they develop an uncoordinated gait.

But in recent days, Man-Child I and II have shown apparent signs of complete dumbness that astounded me, and then reminded me that for all their claims of being a grown man they’re still children after all, growing up in a different era to me.  I will amuse you with two such instances.

On a recent holiday, Man-Child I and II were thrilled to discover our very luxurious holiday rental was complete with flat screen TV’s, Bose surround sound systems, and their own home theatre room in the basement – complete joy for all as the boys had their own space (quickly dubbed “the hole”) and they could play as much music and watch as much TV as their hearts desired without nagging parents interfering.  The system was even better due to the ability to plug-in an iPod or iPhone and enjoy their music on tap.

When we returned home and I unpacked the beach towels from Man-Child II’s bags (in the event they would otherwise remain there wet for the next 2 months turning mouldy), I found some A/V plugs that didn’t look familiar at all.  I innocently asked where they might have come from and received the first response “I don’t know”, and following a look that said “do you think I’m stupid” he admitted he’d taken it from the rental property, because “it was right at the back of the cupboard and no-one would even know it was missing and I wanted to connect my iPod at home”.  Naturally, I explained that was theft, and that he could visit the post office the following day and mail it back to the agent with a short note about it’s accidental removal.

Whilst I’m annoyed and disappointed about the theft, I had to chuckle when I told him to take it to the post office and mail it.  Man-Child II (yes he who would have you believe he should be allowed to go anywhere and everywhere because he’s so grown up) asked how he should post it!  He literally had no idea what to do.  I explained that you buy a stamp with your money to cover the cost of mailing the item to QLD, and place it in the letterbox.  So it got me thinking – is it really because he’s stupid, or completely non-observant, or is it that most 14 year olds don’t ever use that form of communication, being the millennial generation, so he has had virtually no experience posting letters – that old-fashioned form of staying connected?  In hindsight, the latter is probably true.  So I took it to the post office and spent the $1.20 for mail (I wish it had been more to teach him a good lesson)!

It seems Man-Child I isn’t much better.  Having asked me to arrange a doctor’s appointment for an earache recently, I explained I could do that but we’d both be at work, so he’d be on his own (it being school holidays).  So I left a note on the bench before work with details of the appointment, rang my husband to ensure he had seen the note before he left for work, then rang home later and told Man-Child I what time the doctor was, and to wake up his brother in time for the appointment, and even sent Man-Child I a text message – in short covered every conceivable base.  So guess what happened?  He missed the appointment!!!

It seems Man-Child II apparently did tell him to get up, but Man-Child I being half asleep didn’t even listen, so slept on.  Man-Child I then rang me 2 hours after the allotted time to ask when I was coming home to pick him up and take him to the doctor, because that’s what I always do!!!  Good grief!  Suddenly they don’t seem so independent do they?  I then had to beg for another appointment as naturally they were booked out by then, and I told Man-Child I to get on the tram himself or ride his bike to the doctor.  And not to worry about paying as I’d fix them up later.  Clearly we have a way to go to educate our boys to be independent, and capable of operating in the adult world.

So when they tell me yet again that they’re grown up and “nearly 15” and should be allowed to do anything they want, obviously we share a very different perspective don’t we?