Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The other side of the adolescent bridge March 7, 2014

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twin boys as toddlersI am now the proud mother of two adults!  No longer “men-children”, my twin boys turned 18 this week, which naturally causes one to reflect on the journey so far, and to be so thankful that we all made it through in one piece, relatively unscathed, but with plenty of stories to tell along the way (the blog thanks you both).

Father of a Man-Child and I, along with their little sister, made quite a fuss on the day (as much as we could when we all had to go to work and school).  Presents, heartfelt cards from each of us, dinner of their choice, birthday cake – it’s not every day you turn 18, and we think they felt special.  Of course the best birthday present anyone could get is their car licence, which one managed to achieve on the day. He was beside himself with excitement when he got to take the car out for a spin with a mate that night.  I am sure we can all remember the giddy sense of independence, freedom and power (and perhaps a few nerves) that goes with that first drive on your own. His brother sits his licence next week, and can’t wait to join the club!

As my Father-in-law commented the other day, we all seem to be in a good place – and he is right.  Our boys have travelled across the adolescent bridge, and made it to the other side.  For those who don’t know Celia Lashlie’s book He’ll Be OK, she describes adolescence as a journey across a bridge, with no mothers allowed! I have done my best to stay off the bridge as much as possible, whilst providing the safety net below, and yelling instructions from either end!  It’s not an easy task to let your children go, but as I reflected the other day, I realised that we had slowly but surely given them more rope, as they inched across the bridge, giving them a bit more freedom over time, until finally they reached the other side.  It happened so organically, we didn’t really notice until we all popped our heads up and presto – they made it.

Whilst tension remains in our house from time to time (we still argue with them, they still fight, we still disagree on some things), they have certainly matured this year in particular.  Perhaps it comes with the beginnings of their adult life, and starting to establish themselves, their identities, their paths towards careers.

One man-child is doing year 12, focussed on working hard, getting good marks and heading to uni next year to do a course of his choosing.  He is also focused on his sport (rowing and footy), showing incredible dedication, and making many sacrifices to be a part of their elite crews and teams.  He deserves all the success he is enjoying, given his work ethic and commitment, and we are incredibly proud of all he has achieved.

His twin brother, having left school to achieve a TAFE qualification in Building & Carpentry, has now secured himself an apprenticeship and we couldn’t be prouder.  He applied for the job online, had an interview, completed a trial (it only took two days for his boss to realise he’d found a winner), and was offered an apprenticeship last week.  He beat 100 other applicants in a tough market, and has thankfully been employed by a genuinely nice bloke, who will treat him well and invest time and energy to teach him further skills.

Beyond their achievements, the most important thing of course is what sort of people we have shaped our men-children into, and we think, from all reports, we have done a reasonable job.  They are both happy and healthy, they have good circles of friends, they are loyal, and reliable.  I know they are polite and charming when they want to be, and know how to behave appropriately in certain circumstances.  Certainly they are not angels all the time, but hey, we all have to have some fun!  They know they are loved by their parents and sister, and extended family, and they know they are lucky to have had opportunities that others may not.  They understand the value of hard work, and the rewards that follow.  In short, I think they are pretty good  kids adults!! 🙂

So to my once beautiful baby boys, who we were so blessed to welcome into the world 18 years ago, so perfect, so gorgeous, bringing us double the joy and double the love, Happy Birthday.  You are a gift we are thankful for every day (just like your sister), and we are incredibly proud of you both and will love you forever.

Read my original post about Celia’s Lashlie’s book He’ll be Okay


Mother of a Man-Child: New Years at Portsea – 30 years on… January 14, 2011

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When I was 14 years old, and again at 15 years old, I begged my parents to be allowed to go to Portsea for New Years Eve. Naturally they said “NO” – not a surprise.  By the time I was finally permitted to go years later, I actually no longer wanted to go, because my peer group had moved on.  Clearly that was the intention of my parents. 🙂

As readers of my blog know, I am now experiencing first hand with my Men-Children what my parents experienced with my twin and me as their teenage daughters.  My Men-Children seem to be exhibiting extremely similar (scarily so) behaviour at exactly the same age.  Of course my father is thoroughly amused by all this – call it Karma.  Since I turned out all right, we can also assume that my Men-Children also stand a reasonable chance, so he doesn’t seem at all worried.  He’s more interested to see how I respond to the challenges of parenting a mini-me of myself.

So it should come as no surprise that Man-Child I wanted to go to Portsea for New Years Eve this year.  I am sure he planted the seed months ago with a mate, to secure a berth at someone’s house.  Which of course made it much easier for me to say I would think about it and eventually to agree.  Apparently they were off to a party at a friend’s house, which they would walk to (much better that no cars are allowed on the roads in my view).

The day before New Years, having asked the boys to tidy their room ahead of guests visiting the beach house, naturally it was me who ended up picking up wet towels off the floor and dragging doonas onto beds.  Whilst doing so I came across a bag under the bunk beds and when I pulled it out, discovered a number of grey school socks covering something cylindrical.  My first thought was large firecrackers, but alas what I found were individually wrapped stubbies of beer.  Yes that’s right, 24 bottles of warm beer.  It took me less than 0.5 seconds to work out who they belonged to and for what reason, so I picked them up and took them with me to find Man-Child I.  You can imagine his face…priceless!

The funniest thing for me was that I had asked before we left Melbourne where all the school socks were as they had strangely disappeared from the laundry.  The boys nervously responded that Man-Child I now wore his school socks with casual clothes, which I commented was very “gay” quite frankly.  Little did I know!

For once (and yes this may come as a surprise) I actually didn’t determine the resulting punishment on the spot.  I calmly advised Man-Child I there were a number of possible outcomes, namely:

  • Option 1:  Confiscate the alcohol but still allow him to go (fair)
  • Option 2:  Not allow him to go at all (very mean)
  • Option 3:  Allow him to go with the alcohol (I didn’t mention this option, but I had it up my sleeve just in case)

I then drilled him to understand how he had actually managed to acquire the beer?  We went from an un-named bottle shop in Glenferrie Road with him purchasing them initially, to the eventual truth – namely paying a “random” to buy them for him.  That was after I threatened to visit the said bottle shop and have them shut down for selling alcohol to minors.  Trust me, I so would do it!

When I told my husband about my discovery, he admitted that he actually knew about the beer!  I was not amused.  He had apparently caught our men-children passing the beer over the back fence to hide in the garden – strangely on the weekend when he was gardening.  Considering they’d been on school holidays for weeks and we’d both been working full-time I was a little surprised they were that stupid.

I was also furious to learn that Father of a Man-Child’s response had been “I don’t want to know about it”, so they had considered that tacit approval (yet again).  I mentioned that I considered that to be a clear failure of Parenting 101 and dodging responsibility.  Grrr…

As we were entertaining friends, it was several hours later before we got around to discussing what should happen with the beer.  By this stage, my friends knew about the find (it made a good story over drinks), and I had also sought the advice of my sisters and discussed/argued about it with my husband and father-in-law.

Actually it was the latter (wise older man) who had the best suggestion.  As he was kindly and conveniently taking Man-Child I to Portsea himself, he said he would take the beer as long as the parents of Man-Child’s friend knew he was bringing it.  I reasoned that this was a good approach – we were being very transparent (no more sneakiness), and the parents accepted some responsibility also.

So the result?  Countless texts and phone calls later it was all sorted.  Option 3 came to fruition – he got to go AND take the beer.  OMG, yes Mother of a Man-Child actually gave in, much to the chagrin of Man-Child II.  This is history in the making you realize?  This also meant Man-Child I was allowed to get the beers in the fridge before hand, guaranteeing an icy cold beverage.  You wouldn’t believe what they were proposing to ensure they had cold beers otherwise.

And the night?  They went to a mate’s (with beers in the back packs) then onto Shelley Beach.  The perfect hot and windy 40-degree day and night to end the year and mark the beginning of 2011.   Man-Child I survived it, no doubt sobered up by having to walk miles from his friend’s house and home again.   The only incident I learned about was a friend who had his front teeth knocked out by a charming bogan on the beach – although I understand he asked for it!

So I find myself on the cusp of another stage in adolescence.   One where I actually accept that they might just be old enough to partake selectively in alcohol…although I know it’s really not good for them at all.

And if you’re wondering what Man-Child II got up to, he didn’t manage to get to Portsea or Sorrento, or have a friend down (some things just don’t work out).  So he spent the night with some of our friends and us and we really enjoyed his company.  We even let him have a beer with us.  Cheers!