Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Breaking News: Man-Child cleans his room! August 30, 2013

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rubbish bagsOMG, a major victory in the home of the men-children – one of the boys has voluntary cleaned his bedroom.  The reason for my excitement – it’s actually the man-child who was content living with crap from one end of his room to the other, carpet no longer visible beneath the growing pile of clothing, bags, shoes, papers, beer boxes etc.

I came home last night to find two full garbage bags sitting in the family room.  Naturally I enquired of Father of a Man-Child about the contents, sure they were yet more bags of donated footy boots that would live in our house for another four months.  You can imagine my surprise when he told me it was the clothing that our man-child had sorted in his bedroom and decided he no longer needed.

I was temporarily dumb-struck at the news, before sheer excitement overtook me.  I asked for a celebratory drink, and raced upstairs to see the impact of the purging.  The fact that one can now actually see the carpet in man-child’s room is excitement enough.  He has removed the largest piles of offending items, and begun the process.  Before you get too excited, it’s not quite spotless yet (he has the high standards of a neat freak to live up to remember) but he’s made a great start.  The cupboards have had a good clean out, his clothes now have a place to live, and he even has a bag full of items he intends to sell.

I asked if he was going to continue with the clean-up project, grateful he said yes, albeit “eventually” (let’s not overdo it on the first day).  But just to have agreement that he will tackle his desk in due course, and also remove and/or sort out all the bags, scooter, gym weights etc on the floor of his room is cause for further celebration.

Now you may ask what led to this change of heart?  I certainly have.  Father of a Man-Child thinks it just takes a while for the message to sink in, so perhaps it has been delivered often enough that it finally took hold (definitely a possibility).  In my most recent letter to them following WWIII in our home, I did describe his room as positively “vile”.

Man-Child was also recently the recipient of two wonderful pieces of memorabilia for his room – a framed football jumper and a framed collection of his rowing photos and medals, which I think he realises, will look great in his bedroom if it’s clean.  In its current state you wouldn’t even notice the frames.   Of course he only has to look at this brother’s bedroom to see the idyllic state his room could be in – perhaps that finally inspired him also?

So, a small victory for Mr and Mrs Tidy Town (that’s us), and a major leap forward for our Man-Child.  I will gently encourage him to continue the clean up (don’t rush me Mum), and maybe even offer to help (who knows what I might find though).

As they say, and I concur, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”.  I have already said my little prayer of thanks to the man above. 🙂


Brotherly Love – NOT! August 23, 2013

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fightingIt’s been a big week in the home of the men-children.  Perhaps something had been bubbling along beneath the surface, waiting to explode, just like the head of a giant teenage pimple.  What started out as a simple argumentative exchange across the dinner table (over absolutely nothing of course) escalated into an all in brawl upstairs and some pretty hideous outcomes for both of them.  It was so bad, even Sister of a Man-Child was upset and crying over the fracas upstairs.  When time passes I might be able to share the exact details, but suffice to say we were still dealing with the fallout the following day and into the next night.

I went to work completely exhausted, feeling like I had done ten rounds with Rocky Balboa myself.  Father of a Man-Child and I managed to debrief during the day, and both planned our individual approaches to dealing with the event.  He, a much more calm influence, was happy to talk to the boys about what happened and how to avoid future incidents.  Me, a little more intense, and prone to getting excited (okay, read yelling), decided to take the other approach, penning a letter to the boys that day and hand delivering it to them both before dinner.  I think sometimes it’s better for them to read something, reflect, and re-read it if need be.

We spent a fairly tense night with continued discussions (arguments) about their behaviour, the causes behind it, our expectations of their future behaviour, and negotiations about the damage and what we would cover (absolutely zero by the way – they break it, they pay for it).  I ended the night even more drained, with a quick text to them both:  “Goodnight boys.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Let’s make a fresh start.  You have two parents and a sister who love you both and just want a happy family at home. xo.”

Sister of a Man-Child subsequently told me that she had wanted to hug both the boys after being so upset.  I agreed with her sentiment completely.  So we did exactly that the next day!  We gave them both a huge, big hug each.  We didn’t say anything, because we didn’t need to.  They knew we were saying to them it’s all okay, it’s all in the past, it’s all forgiven, and we love you.  Do you know how good it felt to hug my bigger than me, gorgeous boys?  I hope it felt as good for them as it did for us.   And I think we should do more of it.  The human connection that comes with a physical hug, the reminder of your family’s unconditional love and the sense of security that touch communicates is pretty powerful.  For whatever reason, I hug my daughter every day when I head off to work, and sitting on the couch at weekends, but as our teenagers grow up, that seems to diminish (I suppose understandably).

So, I am planning to hug my boys more often.  And maybe I can use it as my new secret weapon to diffuse future fights and arguments.  Don’t yell, just hug them into submission!! 🙂

Do you have teenage boys or did you have teenage brothers?  Did they fight physically?  Tell me mine are normal (if a little extreme)!

It’s not the first fight they’ve had of course:  read more here and here.

PS.  That is NOT a picture of my men-children!


More Man-Child Mess August 16, 2013

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clean meAs a self-declared neat freak, and very organised person, it pains me to live with the mess of teenage boys. More than two years ago I wrote of my frustration with the lovely conditions that one of my sons chose to live in – not surprisingly we are still living with the same mess (I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the original stuff is still on the floor from my post of July 2011)!!

So what is a neat freak to do? Well we told the cleaners to stop at his bedroom door years ago. Just don’t bother, leave it alone, you can’t see the carpet anyway. Naturally, they can’t help themselves, so they pick up some of the stuff, pile it on his bed, and give part of the floor a cursory vacuum (I feel their pain).

Just tonight said Man-Child declared his room was so messy because his brother is constantly throwing things in the room, a tactic learned from their father, who used to put the dirty frying pan in the bedroom of the offender, when it wasn’t washed. Well when I looked I didn’t see any signs of recent rubbish, dirty breakfast bowls, half eaten pizza crusts, or empty stubbies. I saw a mixture of paperwork, leftover bedding from sleepovers, sports bags from past camping trips, music systems and gifts from Christmas, and crumpled clothing that he will either wear tomorrow or wore a year ago!

After more fighting upstairs recently between the men-children (it’s STILL a common occurrence) I told both of them that at a minimum I expected them to keep their common areas tidy and free of each other’s dirty clothes, crockery, rubbish, etc, but that they could keep their rooms as they chose. Except, it still pisses me off that one bedroom is a veritable swamp!

Tonight, I had a light bulb moment, inspired by the cleaner’s pile of whatever on the bed. I decided I now have two options: I will either bag up everything on the floor and dispose of it in plastic bags (or at least park it on the back porch), or better still, I will just open the cupboards (basically empty) and shove it all in there where I can’t see it, and quite frankly he can just forget about it, freeing the floor for the cleaners, me from further pain, and man-child from some ghastly disease as a result of the bacteria growing in his room.

I mentioned to him that I had a brain wave, and that I would take action on the weekend. Man-Child was filthy at me, and made various threats about what he would do if I set foot in his room. So I intend to stew on it for a few days and then consider implementing my plan. Let me know your thoughts please. Do I have the right to go into his room and clean it up (as the cleaners do)? Am I invading his privacy by doing so? I’m not snooping, just picking stuff up off the floor. He is almost 18, but I am his parent, and it’s my house! Am I crossing the line or not? Any other ideas about how to approach the problem, apart from therapy? Yours in hideous chaos, Mother of a Man-Child.

Here’s the original post about the mess:


Boys to Men August 9, 2013

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footballI was reminded last week of the benefits of sport and how wonderful it is to observe boys becoming men.  One of the men-children played football this season, fortunate enough to play in the First squad with mainly Year 12 boys (sadly his brother has hung up his rugby boots now that he has left school – no amount of cajoling, encouraging or threatening helping to convince him to keep playing).

For our footballer, I noted a couple of benefits from this season – one, he played with older boys, I am sure a good influence as they are more mature (the drinking games they taught him at the end of season party were NOT an advantage!).  Two, he observed up close how they are balancing the demands of Year 12 and sport.  And he formed good friendships with some of his teammates, a strongly bonded group, with a great bunch of very supportive parents.

At the end of season gathering, another great chance for the boys and their parents to get together (they really do the parent participation exceptionally well), there were the traditional speeches, videos and presentations to boys and coaches.  Naturally each parent delighted in the comments made about their son, all clearly proud to receive such public praise and recognition.

I especially love to see the wonderful young men speak publicly, about their coaches, their teammates, their parents, their school.  To witness men-children on the cusp of adulthood, showing grace and maturity is heart-warming and reminds me that my own men-children are on the same pathway, about to emerge from adolescence to adulthood like a beautiful butterfly from a chrysalis.

And whilst we don’t see that side of them often, more the prickly caterpillars at home, or the jousting testosterone-laden lion cubs, I am confident that the persona they present to others is of delightful, well-adjusted, polite young men, with no hint of the way they sometimes behave for their parents at home (isn’t it always the case)?

For those who wonder what happened last week (I know, NO post), could it be that Mother of a Man-Child’s days of writing thrilling stories about the adventures of her men-children is coming to an end?  That they will stop to provide me with excellent material for the blog, simply through the things they do on a daily basis, because they are finally growing up?  Let’s hope not!!!  Although last week passed without any unusual incidents, so I was left bereft of a worthy tale.

I have written about the celebration of boys through sport before – such an important part of their school life.