Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

School holiday madness December 14, 2012

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HolidaysThe men-children are now on school holidays for at least 8 weeks.  In the case of one, he won’t be returning to “school” officially (TAFE instead as you recall next year) so he probably feels like someone who just got released from gaol.  And with the freedom from their normal schedules, they seem to believe they are also released from all other responsibilities.

I am not sure whether it’s a boy thing, or just a man-child thing (meaning my own sons), but all common courtesy, common sense, and common helpfulness has evaporated completely from the boys since holidays began.  They seem to believe that a carefree existence is normal for them and therefore for everyone around them.  We don’t know where they are, where they are going, when they’ll be home for dinner, if they’ll be home at all, and if they are they may have a few mates along with them.

Now I don’t know about everyone else, but I do believe it is common courtesy and respect for one’s parents that you at least keep them in the loop.  But no, our men-children seem to have their own ideas.  I do see it as a major failing on my part as a parent that my sons have not learnt such basic skills, so I can only hope that it’s an adolescent, carefree (and careless) attitude that will slowly fade as they morph into adults, with increased responsibilities.

Since they are so rarely here for dinner, our rule from a while back is we don’t even cook for them on school holidays, such is their unreliability.  If they expect dinner, then they need to let us know they will be here.  The reality is our habit is to cook for five people, so there’s generally enough if they “drop in” to join us.  However the other night, one of the men-children strolled into the kitchen and asked “what’s for dinner?”  As it was a Friday night, and I had of course worked all week, I simply explained (without an ounce of guilt):  “It’s Friday night, I don’t cook on Friday night.  Get your own.“  It works both ways!

Such is the extent of their rudeness, and seemingly lack of ability to even grasp the most basic of skills, the other day, one of the men-children was asking for the address of the holiday house we will stay at over summer.  When I enquired for whom, I was advised it was for all the people who were going to stay at our house on New Years Eve.  Well, you can imagine how quickly I hit the brakes on that conversation, doing a little more fact-finding very quickly.  Small details like how many are you inviting, and whom exactly?  And do their parents know that a bed (mattress on the floor) does not constitute me accepting responsibility for their under age daughters at Portsea for new years?   He was aghast that I not only expected the parents to phone me to make sure it was kosher, but if they didn’t then I would ring them all to ensure the ground rules were clear.  You see, I have been a 16-year-old girl before, so I know how it works (and how the truth can be very distorted depending on what you actually SAY).

After a lecture about the courtesy of actually asking before you invite five friends to stay, the same man-child went out that night to a gathering.  He had a few mates here before hand (of course he didn’t ask), went off to the party, and told me he didn’t know if he was staying at home or at his girlfriends for the night. I was pretty surprised to hear him and three mates arrive home at 3.30am at our house, (yep, thanks again for the heads up – they don’t listen or learn clearly), and then proceed to start-up the play-station for a few games.  No they don’t care if someone else (twin brother) is trying to sleep upstairs too.  So I yelled up the stairs to shut it down and get to bed – there was no argument – a grumpy mother always wins at that hour.  But I was left lamenting again why he just didn’t get my point of earlier in the day, and have ANY consideration for anyone else.

When the same child mentioned that he was planning to have some mates over to christen the new “party” deck we have just built, we casually asked how many that might be.  “Oh 15, maybe 30 people”!  WTF.  He has no idea…..really.

It is times like these that Father of a Man-Child and I tend to shut down their social lives, rein them in, ensure they’re at home for dinner, and use the chance to get some normalcy back in their lives and ours.  Sometimes the routine of being at school can actually be good for everyone.

So am I being unreasonable?  Or am I a stressed out parent who should just RELAX a bit more about her teenage boys?  Does a few weeks/months of being carefree matter at the end of the day, for them or us?  Or should I just accept that I am losing control of them, they are 16, and it ain’t going to get any easier to tell them what to do, as one reminded me the other day, when he casually mentioned that the piercing he has been so in favour of for a few years is now likely to become a reality very soon now that he has left school – great!

The last time he mentioned getting a piercing, we had to argue very strongly with him to avoid it.  Read more here.

 

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Planes, Trains and Automobiles! June 17, 2011

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As I publish today, one of my men-children has been stuck in Adelaide for the past week, thanks to the qualms of nature and a certain volcano spewing ash across the globe.  What started out as a long weekend away for a teenage party has turned into a week-long stay – who would have thought!

Such is the irony, that having initially been stranded in Adelaide due to the closure of Melbourne airport, the ash cloud then travelled backwards across Australia to Adelaide airport, grounding my son and his friends for even more time.

For the first time ever (and never again) he flew Tiger Airways.  Yes, very cheap and god-awful flight times, but who cares when you’re a teenager?  Except when there’s been an Act of God that closes the airports, and suddenly the “busted-arse” airline has NO priority in the aviation skies, and so no planes can get off the ground.

So after expecting our darling man-child home last Monday (I admit I was looking forward to seeing him even after 3 days) it’s now Saturday (at best) before we will see him.   Naturally buses and trains have been explored, but as you would imagine they’ve been booked out, and I’m not that keen on teenagers doing that without adult supervision, so we’ve decided that the fall back is now Father of a Man-Child and another Dad driving to Adelaide and back to bring the boys home, if all goes pear-shaped again on Saturday.

Whilst I am missing him, naturally Man-Child II is delighting at missing school and spending time with a family who apparently like him so much they’d happily adopt him!  Regardless of how they behave at home (typically badly), all is forgiven when you learn from another parent (and I quote) “Man-Child II has been amazing…Dishes in sink, making bed, helping out…Tidying up after the party.”  Why is it that none of that happens here at home?

Naturally as time has gone on, I’ve shuddered to think that he didn’t take the bath towel I asked him to take, and only had two pairs of jocks, but I know that they’ll be well looked after, and just be treating it as a “camping” trip = minimal hygiene required.

Before Man-Child II had even got on the plane to Adelaide a week ago, I should have known there was trouble brewing.  I had the host mother on the phone just to confirm if it was true that I had given my permission for my son to have his eyebrow pierced (his mate was opting for the lesser ear-piercing).  I said absolutely NOT, but feel free to let him know that if he has his foreskin pierced then he can also have his eyebrow pierced!  With much hilarity we both agreed that given this option he probably would. 🙂

That didn’t stop Man-Child II texting me furiously to try to convince me why he should be allowed to have the piercing.  Needless to say I remained adamant it not happen, both verbally, and to ensure no “misunderstanding” via text  – I guess time will tell!

All said and done it’s been interesting to have Man-Child II away for the week.  The dynamics of the house have changed significantly – sister of a man-child has no one annoying her, and Man-Child I has no one to fight with – it’s been positively BORING!  And I admit, I’ve missed him as I do any of my children when they’re away for an extended period of time.  As they say, absence does make the heart grow fonder – but only if it doesn’t have an earring in it!!