Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

A Celebration Of Boys Through Sport August 26, 2011

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I attended a function at the men-children’s school recently (yes, we had three events in seven days) and it gave me reason to reflect as the Mother-of-a-Man Child on the journey of my sons from boys to adolescents to adults.

The event I attended was the Rugby Presentation night.  As the team manager for one of the men-children’s teams (ironic since I know virtually nothing about rugby no matter how hard I try to learn the rules – apparently the prerequisite was being good at email communication), I decided that this year I would like to attend the evening.

Father-of-a-Man-child and I tend to play tag team at these events anyway, mainly because we have the much younger Sister-of-a-Man-Child at home, and it’s just too big an impost to all go to everything, especially on a school night.  Hubby had been to the AFL presentation night just a few nights earlier, so it seemed fair to share the load.

The night was really like any sporting presentation night.  A great compilation video to open the night, followed by Coaches awards for each year level (best player, most improved, etc), gifts presented to coaches, recognition for the all important 1st team (this is predominantly made up of year 12’s and other boys who excel in the sport), and special awards.

No doubt since I hadn’t attended one before I probably enjoyed it more than many.  I doubt the format changes year in, year out.  As some of you would know, the end of year primary school concert, as gorgeous as it is, loses some of it’s joy by the time you’ve attended four or five of them, and you know you’ve got another 10 to go with your daughter following your sons through the school!!!

But we digress – back to the rugby evening.  My overwhelming sense of the night was that it really was a true celebration of boys.  Collectively they represented a wonderful display of teamwork, mateship, determination, and dedication by both coaches and students alike.  Many of the coaches referred to watching the boys progress over the year as they grew into young men, witness to the ever-changing physical and emotional rollercoaster that is adolescence.  Some were very frank about the challenges of coaching the boys, particularly at certain ages when they are more anti-authoritarian, but even then, you could tell they enjoyed the challenge and delighted in the development of the boys and what they had achieved throughout the season.

Above all, I also got an amazing sense of the bond they all shared through their love of the game of rugby.  It was quite a contagious feeling, and made me pleased to be playing even a very minor part in the sport.  It also gave me an insight into Father-of-a-man-child’s passion for the local AFL footy club of which he is President.  It takes up way too much of his time, but now I think I can understand why he just can’t get enough of the club.

For us, we love that both of our men-children are active in sport.  Be it AFL, Rugby or Rowing, what became clear for me is the importance for them to be part of a team, to do their best, to enjoy the pursuit of sporting excellence, to put in the effort to get the reward, and to have fun whatever the result.  And above all, to just be boys, becoming young men, playing sport, with all the stuff that goes with it. 🙂

Read more about being a Mother in a Man’s world here, reflecting on the book “He’ll be OK, by Celia Lashlie”.


Drug and Alcohol Education – the unofficial kind! August 19, 2011

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bongThis week I attended the Cannabis Education evening at the school of the men-children.  They thought it was a good idea to talk about drug use to Year 9 parents and boys, having covered off Alcohol Education last year.  We had a presentation by the local Drug Support program, and the local Youth Affairs Police Officer.  Little did they know that sitting in the audience was the mother of a man-child whom they had both had the pleasure of meeting almost one year earlier!!

Below I have published the post that I drafted a year ago, when one of the men-children decided to experiment with cannabis (for obvious reasons I couldn’t bring myself to publish it at the time).  Looking back, I am convinced we handled the situation appropriately.  To the best of my knowledge our son has not continued to experiment with cannabis, and I think he learned a lot through the process.

Original Draft Post (November 2010): 

We’ve endured some interesting events on the journey to date that is adolescence.  Parties, gatherings, girlfriends, shoplifting, meetings with the school, smoking cigarettes, sneaking out at midnight, uninvited guests at 3am, and so the list goes on.  With each new event we seem to exhale with a “well that should be the worst of it shouldn’t it”, a glimmer of hope, but a sense of the inevitable.

And so our latest hurdle.  Man-Child II arrived home on a recent Saturday afternoon after being out all day with friends.  He was happily (unusual in itself) sharing details of where he’d been, and with whom, when I noticed his words were slurred, and he could hardly keep his eyelids open.  My first instinct was of course alcohol, but I couldn’t smell it on him at all.  My second instinct was dope – and unfortunately it seems I was right.

Now both alcohol and marijuana are drugs – but one is highly illegal and one is legal (for those of adult age of course).  The use of either by my 14-year-old son scared me, but more so dope, because you don’t find kids “pushing” alcohol to fund their habit the way you do drugs do you?

Naturally Man-Child II initially denied all usage to my face, but claimed he had been with others smoking dope and therefore he smelt of it and was mildly affected – yeah, right!  Seriously, do they really think any parent with a brain bigger than a goldfish would believe that?

He wasn’t in much of a state to talk (yes what you call totally “stoned”), and for obvious reasons wasn’t forthcoming with any associates names, so off to bed he went.  We actually called the police to check what we should do (we were more than happy to haul him down to the local station for a good talking to on the spot).  They were very interested to know his age, and school – no doubt looking for patterns in usage and known users.  They asked us to bring him down to the station at a later date for a meeting, and also advised us they offer a counselling service where they work with young teens to try to encourage them not to use drugs so they would be referring our son to them.  Perfect!

In the meantime, there was instant punishment dealt out (“you can forget the long-planned Halloween party”) and we had to endure 24 hours of pleading, begging, cajoling, crying, tantrums and text messages to try to make us relent.  But we held our ground and he didn’t attend the party – a minor victory for the parents.

I also had a conversation with Man-Child II to actually ask if he knew what effects drug use had (for irregular and regular users).  He was a little vague so I set him straight.  And I also explained how the classic pyramid selling worked, and why people he didn’t know well were more than happy to give him free drugs with a view to recruiting him longer term.   That seemed to make him think.

I am hoping that the meeting will involve the police scaring the absolute crap out of him (a la Man-Child I’s run in with the law over shoplifting) so he’ll be put off for another few years at least, and that the counselling session will have the desired educational effect.  And if I find out who exactly was kind enough to share the drugs with my son, they should be more worried about me finding them than the police.

Post-Script (August 2011): 

Our man-child did meet with the local police officer, and did attend the drug counselling program as instructed by the police.  He was told if he didn’t attend the program there would be serious consequences for him.  To his credit he took himself off for several appointments as required.  He didn’t share what went on at the sessions, and nor did he need to – it was between our son and the counsellor and we were pretty sure he was in good hands.

When I arrived home last night from the school I mentioned the name of the local policeman and the counsellor who had attended the evening.  Man-Child II nearly died of fright when he realized it was one and the same, as he is obviously known to them.  The fact is he has nothing to fear.  He has learned his lesson, and I hope is actually one step ahead of some of his peers, who haven’t yet been given the skills or life lessons to equip them with the ability to make the right choices when exposed to drugs.

You can read about Man-Child I’s brush with the law here: “An Arresting Story”.


Man-Child Pays Sister For Silence August 12, 2011

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top secret
Sister of a Man-Child was left at home recently with Man-Child II babysitting whilst we went out to dinner (yes there are advantages to having men-children after all).  When we came home there appeared to be no issues, daughter was asleep in bed, all was good.

About a week later, Sister of a Man-Child told me she had a secret.  Moreover, it was a secret she wasn’t supposed to share with us, because her brother had asked her to keep the secret.  But she wondered if she could share it, on the condition her brother couldn’t know, and no-one would get in trouble.  Poor child, she was carrying around a secret and bursting to tell someone.  “Of course you can tell me darling” I said, wondering what mischief was about to be revealed.

Sister:  Well, the other night when you went out, Man-Child II had a friend over, and he said he’d pay me to keep it a secret from you.
Mother:  Really, did he now?  Was it a girl or boy?
Sister:  Boy.
Mother:  Do you know who it was?
Sister:  No.
Mother:  How much did he pay you?
Sister:  $3.   (Reasonable deal for both really.)

So we said nothing, and praised Sister of a Man-Child for being honest enough to tell us and reassured her she or he wouldn’t get in trouble or know that we had been told the secret.  I figured we might as well encourage this excellent form of man-child espionage. 🙂

A week later a mate of Man-Child II walks in the door.  Sister of a Man-Child discreetly says to me “Mum, you know how I said he had a mate over, that’s him.”  Bingo! Puzzle solved.  Perfect.  Sister of a Man-Child was actually quite chuffed, realizing she had managed to deliver all relevant information to her parents, without suffering any form of retribution.

She then floored me when she said to herself, “Gee, this is okay.  I get paid to keep a secret, but then I tell Mum, and everything is okay.”  LOL, brilliant!  This kid will go far in life.  She earned the $3 from her brother – I hope she makes plenty more from them over the years!!!

Read more about Sister of a man-child here:  A Princess Tale.


Men-Children in Motor Cars–Yikes! August 5, 2011

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FerrariAs the boys approach their 16th birthday early next year, conversations at the dinner table have turned to their next rite of passage – the driver’s license.  Surely for a boy one of the most prized of possessions, second only to the car they both hope to own of course.

Man-Child I for years talked about the Ferrari he would own as his first car.  I for years told him I hoped that he’d be that successful one-day, but it was unlikely to be his first car.  Was that mean of me to quash his dreams and give him a dose of reality?  I didn’t do it when he was very small I promise.  At any rate hoon laws would presumably prevent it anyway.

So over the years they’ve adjusted their sights to all manner of beastly boy cars, including Holden Utes, Commodores, Subaru’s – basically any high performance car!   On occasions we have been in the car and they’ve both let out a WHAAAAWWWW in such a way I thought we were about to have an accident.  But no, it was just admiration for some passing hoon car. 🙂

The downside of being a twin, is that both will need to clock up their L-plate hours at the same time.  As I understand it, you need 120 hours practice for an automatic license, and 180 hours for a manual license.  This puts them at a distinct disadvantage to non-twins, as they can’t both drive the family car on outings simultaneously.  As an added complication, it seems Man-Child II has decided he wants his manual license (Man-Child I is happy with an auto), and somehow convinced Father of a Man-Child that buying a cheap $5,000 Jeep would be the perfect car to practice driving in!!!   Of course it could be that Father of a Man-Child was also thinking about the fun he could have over summer getting around in a Jeep (mid life crisis anyone?).

Mother of a Man-Child being the practical one of the family, said, hmmm, so you think the family are going to go out in a busted $5,000 Jeep just so you can drive us around and clock up your hours?   No probs he said, Dad and me will just do a few drives to Kangaroo Island and back (about 11 hours one way).  You do the maths – that’s QUITE A FEW drives to KI and it’s not going to happen.  His other solution was that everywhere we go we’ll take two cars – Man-Child I chauffeuring me in the much-loved automatic family wagon, Man-Child II chauffeuring his father in the manual Jeep.   Oh yeah, we’re getting even more practical now aren’t we?

I remember getting my own license.  We were very lucky to have a close family friend who offered to take me for driving practice regularly.  Do you think he knew that the worst teacher for children is their own parent when it comes to driving?  The child hates being told what they’re doing wrong, the parent is shitting themselves and seeing their life pass in front of their eyes at every intersection.  A recipe for disaster surely?  Maybe Father of a Man-Child can help them clock up the early kms, he’s less of a stress head than me.  I’ll take over when they’ve got some mileage under their belts and are more practiced.

Of course, deep down I live in fear of the day they have their license at all (as you all should!).  I am a firm believer that testosterone loaded boys should not be allowed behind the wheel of any car until they are at least 21 years old.  The statistics show I’m right.  That’s not to say my boys won’t be careful, and thankfully the laws are now so stringent I think they are inclined to be much more cautious about drink driving etc, yet the numbers still show this group are over-represented in deaths on the road.  (Sorry I’ll get off my soapbox now).

I have always maintained that I will send my boys (and in time daughter) to one of those safe driver courses once they have their license – if they’re on the road, then at least equip them with all the skills you can.  Added insurance.

So time will tell whether or not we end up with a 3rd car in the driveway.  As Man-Child II pointed out quite matter-of-factly, eventually there’ll be five cars out the front Mum, so get over it.  Good lord, Sister of a Man-Child is only seven years old – does that mean they’ll be here for another 11 years?  Just as well we went up isn’t it?