Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Are we breeding spoilt teenagers? March 23, 2012

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Teenagers are an interesting breed.  They can be sweet, pleasant, almost enjoyable at times (especially when they want something from you), and then turn in a nano-second and become horrible, hormonal, angry ants, who lose all rationality, typically when they don’t get what they want.  Sound familiar?  Yep, just like a toddler really.

Just a few weeks ago I recall writing that the boys seemed to be turning a corner…..growing up at last….coming out of the woods!  I think I also mentioned some expected set-backs along the way.  You may now call me Nostradamus!

You see our boys can indeed be very charming, provided they get what they want.  Money, a lift somewhere, money, permission to go to a gathering or have someone stay, money, food and drink supplies on tap.  Just stay clear if you plan on saying no or not giving them what they want when they want it.

Lately we are asking ourselves if we have spoilt the men-children too much?  They wanted their Learner’s licence recently, so Father of a Man-Child was convinced to pick them up from school one lunch time and take them for their test, before returning them to school.  Nice VIP service isn’t it?  The same day, just as I pulled into the driveway from work, we got the call to pick them up from a rowing dinner.  So my dinner waited whilst I played taxi service.   They really don’t want for much, although I don’t think we’re a soft touch very often either.

carHaving just got their Learner’s permit (yes I know, fearful times), they are understandably excited.  We however, are understandably not, and suggested that a few driving lessons might be in order to give them some good grounding before they jump in our cars for their first “test drive”.  The ensuing tantrums would have made a 3-year-old with ADHD proud, except I don’t think a 3-year-old has quite the vocabulary of our charming sons.  “We have been waiting SIXTEEN years to drive a car” stated one.  “We’ve driven cars plenty of times” they both claimed.  Now I know one has experienced a small amount of farm driving, but for the life of me I have no idea when his brother did, which leaves far too much to the imagination.  And a determination to never leave the car keys at home if we’re not.

Strangely enough, they are aghast at the idea of having driving lessons.  They think they’ll learn NOTHING.  Hmmm, any wonder that males under 25 are so well represented in the road accident statistics.   An hour-long argument raged with both boys and their father last night over this.  It was quite frankly ridiculous, and made us even more determined to stand our ground.  We promised to get the lessons organised pronto.  It will make no difference to them getting their licence when they turn 18. They just have to learn to wait a few days – sadly something Gen Y aren’t very good at it seems.  I know one of mine especially has an expectation that if he wants something he can get it instantly.  And let’s face it, with online 24/7 you practically can.  Except driving lessons!

So lovely readers, are we being too mean?   Are we being kill joys, and not sharing in their excitement?  Or are we being sensible parents who care about the safety of our own children (and ourselves for that matter)?

As I write this blog I have however had a sudden flash of brilliance.  We have two very early morning runs to school for rowing in the next two days, giving us two perfect opportunities to let two very eager young hoons loose on the road.  Thankfully it’s a very short distance, and we’ll be lucky to see another car on the road.  That’s just how a very nervous Mother of a Man-Child will like it. 🙂

 

Last week we had the build up to the Learner’s permit:  Beep, Beep, Learner Alert.  And we  have experienced our share of power struggles before:  The Parent-Child Power Struggle.  

 

The Parent-Child Power Struggle January 20, 2012

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There comes a point when you realise that it’s a lost cause. That whatever you say will be ignored, and that you are powerless as a parent to control your child anymore. Now in an ideal world, that would be when they are 18 years old, and fair enough too, since legally they are an adult (not necessarily mentally) and you really can’t stop them from doing what they want.

However, as a parent, I have long maintained a couple of principles:

  • Whilst our children are under 18 years old they are our responsibility and really should do what we say
  • Whilst our children live under our roof, they will abide by or at least respect our rules and our house (and it goes without saying respect us), even after they are 18 years old

So how was it that I found myself in the kitchen on Sunday night, with an almost 16-year-old, about to enter into one of the above mentioned no-win conversations? It transpired because after five days away with mates, bringing back a couple of tired men-children from the beach, I stated that Man-Child II was not to ask to go to his girlfriend’s house the minute we got home, as he was clearly tired and in need of a good night’s sleep in his own bed (you may recall he stays at his girlfriend’s house on occasion, against our wishes, as he sleeps in her room apparently)!!!!

No sooner had we walked in the door, than Man-Child II was in my ear.

  • “Hey Mum, I know you said “no”, but can I go to (insert GF’s name) house?”
  • “No you can’t” I tell him. “Don’t go there, we’ve covered this already.”
  • “But Why?” is the response, and the badgering continues for the next 10 minutes in the kitchen, as I’m trying to prepare dinner and get us all unpacked and ready to head to work the next day, whilst Father of a Man-Child is getting Sister of a Man-Child organised.

Now I could swear I had told him in advance that he should not even ask, but what does he do? He not only asks, he nags. And nags, and nags. As he nags, and I hear “But Why” another 10 times, my blood pressure escalates. Now many parents will know this trick, even those of a toddler throwing a tantrum – he’s trying to get me to declare in frustration “Okay, whatever, do what you want”, thereby allowing him to win, hands down, and get his own way. I am determined this will not be the case, so in my absolute frustration do you know what I did? As I was head in the fridge looking for dinner ingredients, I suddenly yanked a full cask of wine out of the fridge and threw it at him (I know, loads of self-control!!).

The cask actually hit him (no harm done) then sadly ricocheted off his arm, hitting the floor and splitting the bladder wide open, emptying the contents under various pieces of furniture. If you’ve never seen a very angry, very frustrated mother, trust me, it’s not a pretty sight. A few swear words later, and some pointed phrases directed at Man-Child II, and I set about cleaning up the mess I had made. Just Fabulous!!!! The rest of the household ducked for cover pretty quickly. Yes I know, it serves me right, but it was not what I needed. And I’m sure the neighbours didn’t really enjoy the entertainment going on next door – but then again????

Do you know what Man-Child II did? He left anyway. He says after Father of a Man-Child and his Man-Child brother had a crack at him (rightly so for causing the fracas), he’d had enough and so felt it was quite acceptable to leave the house (that’s teenage post-rationalisation for you isn’t it?). A pointed exchange via mobile phone then ensued, with multiple threats made by me and then by Father of a Man-Child. Thereafter, I didn’t speak to him for two days (he didn’t come home anyway) and he was seriously in our bad books. Eventually, we insisted he return home, and I did manage to extract a rather pathetic apology from him.

Father of a Man-Child and I have since agreed he needs a good talking to, so he understands that this approach to running his own life at his age is not acceptable, and not going to work while he lives in our house. My view is simple: if he wants to run his own life, he can leave school, get a job, move out, and then do what he wants. Now that would be interesting wouldn’t it?

I spoke to another parent just recently, who experienced similar challenges with his teenage son. He’s just coming out the other side now, but he said it’s been damn hard, and he provided some valuable tips about how to deal with these situations to avoid the instant blow-ups. Of course, avoiding the instant blow-ups might be easier if Mother of a Man-Child didn’t have such a fiery Irish temper…..will need to work on that clearly.

If you’re wondering why I am sharing this story with you, rather than avoid the embarrassment, I guess I thought you should know that I am really just a normal mother, with normal children, who is a long way from perfect, and feels much better admitting that it probably wasn’t the best behaviour on my part, and no doubt I’ll be laughing about it one day soon.