Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The Parent-Child Divide January 25, 2013

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As the men-children approach their 17th birthday (yes, nearly 18 years ago two small cherubs entered our lives), it seems we just get further and further apart at the moment.  Not surprisingly, their independence has escalated substantially in recent years, but so too has their disconnection from us, their parents, to the point we can barely sustain a conversation with them.  I hope that’s normal?

They are naturally interested in talking to you when they want something – money (thankfully less frequently since at least one of them has a job!), a lift somewhere (in 12 months they won’t just want a lift but the entire car!), permission to go out or have someone over (at least they still ask, although you don’t want to be here if we occasionally say “no”!!!).

baboonHowever, should we attempt to engage them in conversation, it is seriously like talking with a mute baboon.  They just don’t seem to want to give you anything more than a one or two-word response.  Unless of course you are texting them, in which case they seem to be able to SMS more quickly than the time taken for their brains to connect to their mouth and utter words, so you tend to get a longer reply.  If you can’t beat them join them?

And then I think back to when I was their age, and how much time I wanted to spend with my parents.  Yep, that would be ZERO.  NADA.  ZIP.  So are they any different to us as teenagers 30 years ago, or any other teenager today?  Probably not, although I think our men-children are towards the extreme end.

I do recall my final year at school with fondness, when I spent more time just talking with my mother.  I assume it was me finally maturing at 17 years of age, and realising that we could have adult conversations about interesting things, and that it wasn’t completely daggy to do so.  Also doing VCE meant I spent a lot more time at home, so it was probably inevitable.

Does Father of a Man-Child fare any better – you know, the father-son bond that is more important and/or influential at this age?  He says not, except maybe in the car, when you have a captive audience, but then he says you end up arguing half way through the drive because you’re trying to teach them some good road sense (L-plates remember) or reminding them to put TWO hands on the wheel (yes, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a boy thing!!).

So all in all it’s a joyous time to be parents to the men-children.  Sometimes you wonder why we bother to do anything for them – you really don’t feel obliged to provide much for them in any way, when you are left to feel like a door mat, unpaid slave, chef, driver, housekeeper, etc.

Anyway, we’ll hang in there (breathe, count to ten), and hope that things improve a little when we get back into the rhythm of school/TAFE in a few weeks time.   That does have a tendency to bring some normality back into everyone’s life in our house.   And we’ll soak up the joy of a 9-year-old daughter who still thinks her parents are pretty awesome. 🙂

If you have survived the teenage years, please tell me ours are “normal”?  It would make me feel a lot better.  And if you have any tips for getting through to grunting, testosterone-laden men-children, please share!  I would be very grateful.


Surviving New Years Eve January 18, 2013

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Happy New Year to all!  Back after a three week break feeling very refreshed, although no doubt a week back at work will undo all the relaxation. Nevertheless, it was a very successful holiday with the kids, especially the men-children.  Testimony to this was the last night of our holiday away, when we asked if they would like to return to the same destination, and the same house next year, and the response was a resounding yes.

Initially we were somewhat concerned at the absence of the boys every day and night during our holiday– they were so quick to find their mates and things to do, father of a man-child felt we had wasted our money hiring a house that catered to the boys with their own sleeping and living area.  However we then reconsidered our position and agreed that a holiday where they were out having a good time, and we were having a good time with our daughter and friends and family was great for all.  A win-win so to speak.

Sister of a Man-Child wasn’t quite so enamoured with her holiday.  I suspect two things were a factor – one she loves having playmates, especially at the beach, so we need to ensure we catch up with friends and other kids (in the absence of her brothers).  And two, she did have a small accident that probably marred her holiday a bit.  Walking into the path of a cyclist doing almost 30kmh and being knocked violently to the road is bound to hurt.  So much so that we needed an ambulance to attend and a trip to the local hospital for some stiches and patching up of various grazes from top to toe.  Thankfully no broken bones so it didn’t completely ruin the second half of her holiday.

beer bottlesThe run up to NYE was interesting in itself.  We had kindly agreed that one of our men-children could have some friends to stay for the night, as most of his friends weren’t “local” to our holiday destination.  Of course, the pressure continued from him (or really his friends) to have more and more to stay.  I stood my ground to ensure we weren’t completely overrun with teenagers and successfully capped the number of bodies on spare mattresses on the actual night.  I also insisted that the girls that were attending (and not well known to me) either have their mothers call me or I would call them.  I wanted to be sure that firstly they had actually told their parents exactly what they were doing on the night, (yes, I have been a teenage girl before), ie. drinking alcohol, partying at the beach, then walking back to our home, and that also their parents understood that with our own friends to entertain, we weren’t going to be available to chase teenagers all over the place at midnight.

Controlling the sleep over was one thing, controlling “pre’s” (that’s short for pre-party drinks) quite another.  Naturally once the address was known, it seemed there were a few extras who decided they could come to our place early on New Years Eve (a bit stressful initially).  It gave me some insight into how quickly a party could get out of control and how strict you need to be with “invitations”.   So we had about 10 friends of one man-child, and suddenly the other man-child decided he too wanted to get into the act, so next thing he’s invited “the bois” (sic) and we have another half dozen teenagers.  To be fair he did ask permission first, and we did request names so we knew exactly who was attending (and all of them were known to us).

So what did we learn hosting a small gathering of teenagers for approx. four hours of “pre’s”:

  1. Make sure you feed them (helps line their stomachs and soak up the alcohol).  Keep it simple – snags, chicken wings and potato gems (I kid you not) proved very popular.
  2. Find countless excuses to “mingle” regularly.  Between several adults we did this, whilst also watching them from a balcony above at any rate.
  3. Don’t be afraid to interfere or take control, especially since it’s your house.  When we saw the shot glasses come out, they were quickly confiscated and the kids told “no shots on my watch thanks”.
  4. Expect the unexpected.  Like the girl whose mother dropped her off with a “thanks for having her to stay” and left me standing their gob-smacked thinking hang on a sec, that name wasn’t on the list.  I told the daughter I didn’t know where she planned to stay, but it wasn’t at our house and she knew that, and so did my son.
  5. Don’t be surprised to see just about every teenager smoking as well as drinking.  I really couldn’t believe they all smoked cigarettes – I thought in the last 30 years maybe things had changed in terms of attitudes to smoking.  Sadly, it seems it has not.
  6. Be thankful you are having “pre’s”.  It’s way less messy than what follows.

And what did my boys learn from the night:

  1. As parents we are “okay” sometimes, since we actually let them have “pre’s” and friends to stay.
  2. However, as parents we also call the shots and stick to our guns.
  3. We do like their friends, except the ones who lie to our faces.
  4. And lastly, that NYE is highly over-rated.  Naturally, once they hit the beach, where alcohol was prohibited (good), the party atmosphere died off pretty quickly and they were all home by about 12.30pm.  Even better.

There was a minor fuss the following day, when I learned that a few of them had been “rescued” from the beach late at night, having told another parent that we wouldn’t allow them to stay, and offered a bed at their house.  Instead of the REAL truth which was they were never INVITED to stay at our place in the first place.  And then they had the gall to turn up to our house the following morning to be collected by Mum.  You can imagine my views of the offending girls and how welcome they will be at my place in future can’t you?

So that was New Years for 2012/13.   We all survived it, and we all enjoyed it.  Will we do it again in 12 months time?  We shall see. 🙂