Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Men-Children in Motor Cars–Yikes! August 5, 2011

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FerrariAs the boys approach their 16th birthday early next year, conversations at the dinner table have turned to their next rite of passage – the driver’s license.  Surely for a boy one of the most prized of possessions, second only to the car they both hope to own of course.

Man-Child I for years talked about the Ferrari he would own as his first car.  I for years told him I hoped that he’d be that successful one-day, but it was unlikely to be his first car.  Was that mean of me to quash his dreams and give him a dose of reality?  I didn’t do it when he was very small I promise.  At any rate hoon laws would presumably prevent it anyway.

So over the years they’ve adjusted their sights to all manner of beastly boy cars, including Holden Utes, Commodores, Subaru’s – basically any high performance car!   On occasions we have been in the car and they’ve both let out a WHAAAAWWWW in such a way I thought we were about to have an accident.  But no, it was just admiration for some passing hoon car. 🙂

The downside of being a twin, is that both will need to clock up their L-plate hours at the same time.  As I understand it, you need 120 hours practice for an automatic license, and 180 hours for a manual license.  This puts them at a distinct disadvantage to non-twins, as they can’t both drive the family car on outings simultaneously.  As an added complication, it seems Man-Child II has decided he wants his manual license (Man-Child I is happy with an auto), and somehow convinced Father of a Man-Child that buying a cheap $5,000 Jeep would be the perfect car to practice driving in!!!   Of course it could be that Father of a Man-Child was also thinking about the fun he could have over summer getting around in a Jeep (mid life crisis anyone?).

Mother of a Man-Child being the practical one of the family, said, hmmm, so you think the family are going to go out in a busted $5,000 Jeep just so you can drive us around and clock up your hours?   No probs he said, Dad and me will just do a few drives to Kangaroo Island and back (about 11 hours one way).  You do the maths – that’s QUITE A FEW drives to KI and it’s not going to happen.  His other solution was that everywhere we go we’ll take two cars – Man-Child I chauffeuring me in the much-loved automatic family wagon, Man-Child II chauffeuring his father in the manual Jeep.   Oh yeah, we’re getting even more practical now aren’t we?

I remember getting my own license.  We were very lucky to have a close family friend who offered to take me for driving practice regularly.  Do you think he knew that the worst teacher for children is their own parent when it comes to driving?  The child hates being told what they’re doing wrong, the parent is shitting themselves and seeing their life pass in front of their eyes at every intersection.  A recipe for disaster surely?  Maybe Father of a Man-Child can help them clock up the early kms, he’s less of a stress head than me.  I’ll take over when they’ve got some mileage under their belts and are more practiced.

Of course, deep down I live in fear of the day they have their license at all (as you all should!).  I am a firm believer that testosterone loaded boys should not be allowed behind the wheel of any car until they are at least 21 years old.  The statistics show I’m right.  That’s not to say my boys won’t be careful, and thankfully the laws are now so stringent I think they are inclined to be much more cautious about drink driving etc, yet the numbers still show this group are over-represented in deaths on the road.  (Sorry I’ll get off my soapbox now).

I have always maintained that I will send my boys (and in time daughter) to one of those safe driver courses once they have their license – if they’re on the road, then at least equip them with all the skills you can.  Added insurance.

So time will tell whether or not we end up with a 3rd car in the driveway.  As Man-Child II pointed out quite matter-of-factly, eventually there’ll be five cars out the front Mum, so get over it.  Good lord, Sister of a Man-Child is only seven years old – does that mean they’ll be here for another 11 years?  Just as well we went up isn’t it?


Mother of a Man-Child: Testosterone Power Surge in Melbourne Suburb! June 10, 2011

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If it was possible to measure the output of testosterone in males, I swear my boys would be world record holders and probably blow up any machine that attempted to gauge it.  Such is the surge of testosterone in our house I can almost feel the electric-like current running through the place sometimes.

I grew up with three wonderful sisters – yes, one of four girls.  Naturally I always wanted brothers and envied my friends who had them in spades.  I therefore thought it was appropriate that my first-born were a) twins, since I am one myself and b) boys, since I had no brothers and was a complete tomboy as a child.  Some would say it served me right!

When my men-children were growing up, we always joked that our gorgeous boys were really just like dogs – always happy when outdoors and definitely better behaved after a good run in the park.  Growing boys just seem to need to burn off some of that energy and testosterone which courses through their veins during key phases in their life.   This is in stark contrast to raising girls, as we learned with the adorable sister of a man-child.  Females are just so different to males, but both equally enjoyable I must add.

Now the men-children are enduring yet another testosterone surge during adolescence, they don’t seem to be able to burn the hormones fast enough to keep a lid on it.  Even with sport virtually every second day, they seem to have plenty in reserve.   Which means that most nights they use it to “play-fight” amongst themselves.

Those of my readers with brothers will know what teenage boys play fighting looks like.  Others of you without brothers or men-children might be surprised to know how severe it can be.  “Play-fighting” by its very name sounds like light wrestling, some muted punches, a bit of nudging, and general pushing and shoving.  But no, that’s just the appetizer for my men-children!

Play fighting in our house involves two 15 year olds literally holding each other in death like grips, using every ounce of their strength in order to deliver harm to their opponent.  I kid you not I once found them entwined, one with legs wrapped around the other, and one in a choker hold, and them thumping each other on the ground to try to extract themselves from the other’s grip.  Neither would give up – no wonder they’re good at competitive sports!  I am still waiting for the hole in the wall, an elbow through the new TV, or a head split open on the corner of the coffee table – it just seems inevitable sadly.

The other night, having listened to the dulcet tones of play fighting from upstairs (yep, all we’ve done is move the noise and testosterone to a new location) I ventured up with the intention of putting an end to it.  I then made the stupid mistake of getting involved – bad idea, when I’m a) shorter, b) lighter and c) prone to excitement and extreme frustration.  All I ended up doing was screaming, getting madder, and earning a physical injury myself.  The lesson for me – I cannot physically win anymore – do not even attempt it (although hair pulling works as a last resort – for some reason they find this EXTREMELY painful)!

We had play-fighting again the following night, and they literally made their way downstairs as they fought.  So I tried a new tack – I threw them out of the house – the freezing winter air in Melbourne soon cooled them down, and took the heat out of their aggression.

Is this normal behaviour?  I think so, or at least I hope so.  It’s probably exacerbated by them being very different personalities.  I recall my girlfriend’s brothers once chasing each other around their kitchen table – I was sure they would kill each other, but I was probably only 10 years old so it made a big impression on me.

Will they be the best of mates one day?  I think so, or at least I hope so.  The testosterone will slow down its relentless pace and the aggression will give way to mate-ship and a lifelong bond between brothers.  Now that would make me happy. 🙂

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Mother of a Man-Child: Bereft of Brain Cells? October 1, 2010

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Sometimes I wonder about my men-children, and whether or not their brains have completely departed their bodies temporarily.  The say that the effect of the raging hormones in teenagers bodies can have certain physiological impacts, such as partial deafness (actually I think that’s a long-term male condition called “selective hearing”), or that gangly awkwardness you see in boys whose limbs are growing faster than they should, and they develop an uncoordinated gait.

But in recent days, Man-Child I and II have shown apparent signs of complete dumbness that astounded me, and then reminded me that for all their claims of being a grown man they’re still children after all, growing up in a different era to me.  I will amuse you with two such instances.

On a recent holiday, Man-Child I and II were thrilled to discover our very luxurious holiday rental was complete with flat screen TV’s, Bose surround sound systems, and their own home theatre room in the basement – complete joy for all as the boys had their own space (quickly dubbed “the hole”) and they could play as much music and watch as much TV as their hearts desired without nagging parents interfering.  The system was even better due to the ability to plug-in an iPod or iPhone and enjoy their music on tap.

When we returned home and I unpacked the beach towels from Man-Child II’s bags (in the event they would otherwise remain there wet for the next 2 months turning mouldy), I found some A/V plugs that didn’t look familiar at all.  I innocently asked where they might have come from and received the first response “I don’t know”, and following a look that said “do you think I’m stupid” he admitted he’d taken it from the rental property, because “it was right at the back of the cupboard and no-one would even know it was missing and I wanted to connect my iPod at home”.  Naturally, I explained that was theft, and that he could visit the post office the following day and mail it back to the agent with a short note about it’s accidental removal.

Whilst I’m annoyed and disappointed about the theft, I had to chuckle when I told him to take it to the post office and mail it.  Man-Child II (yes he who would have you believe he should be allowed to go anywhere and everywhere because he’s so grown up) asked how he should post it!  He literally had no idea what to do.  I explained that you buy a stamp with your money to cover the cost of mailing the item to QLD, and place it in the letterbox.  So it got me thinking – is it really because he’s stupid, or completely non-observant, or is it that most 14 year olds don’t ever use that form of communication, being the millennial generation, so he has had virtually no experience posting letters – that old-fashioned form of staying connected?  In hindsight, the latter is probably true.  So I took it to the post office and spent the $1.20 for mail (I wish it had been more to teach him a good lesson)!

It seems Man-Child I isn’t much better.  Having asked me to arrange a doctor’s appointment for an earache recently, I explained I could do that but we’d both be at work, so he’d be on his own (it being school holidays).  So I left a note on the bench before work with details of the appointment, rang my husband to ensure he had seen the note before he left for work, then rang home later and told Man-Child I what time the doctor was, and to wake up his brother in time for the appointment, and even sent Man-Child I a text message – in short covered every conceivable base.  So guess what happened?  He missed the appointment!!!

It seems Man-Child II apparently did tell him to get up, but Man-Child I being half asleep didn’t even listen, so slept on.  Man-Child I then rang me 2 hours after the allotted time to ask when I was coming home to pick him up and take him to the doctor, because that’s what I always do!!!  Good grief!  Suddenly they don’t seem so independent do they?  I then had to beg for another appointment as naturally they were booked out by then, and I told Man-Child I to get on the tram himself or ride his bike to the doctor.  And not to worry about paying as I’d fix them up later.  Clearly we have a way to go to educate our boys to be independent, and capable of operating in the adult world.

So when they tell me yet again that they’re grown up and “nearly 15” and should be allowed to do anything they want, obviously we share a very different perspective don’t we?


Mother of a Man-Child: Twins – United Momentarily September 17, 2010

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My twin boys are very different – just like my twin sister and I were growing up.   They have different personalities, dispositions, appearances, and quite naturally therefore a different circle of friends.  I love the fact that they are different – completely unique individuals.

At home, they fight often, as all siblings do, especially teenage boys with testosterone surging through their veins.  In fact they remind me of tiger cubs on occasion, sprawled across furniture, the floor, each other, engrossed in TV, Facebook, PS3, then unexpectedly playfully lashing out at each other.  Invariably this sometimes escalates to high level fighting, complete with the strength of miniature men, and the man-child determination not to maliciously harm I think but to “win” – yes they are highly competitive.

Whilst they fight against each other, it is always interesting to see them unite as one in battle, or in sympathy with each other, or even perhaps conspiracy?  Because at the end of the day, whilst they may not like a lot about each other, when pitted against their parents, or other authority figures, they realize that they share a common ground, that of teenagers living in a world that doesn’t understand them, or allow them the freedoms they so surely believe they should have, or just leave them alone and stop nagging them.

So whilst some mothers might feel rejected, left off the adolescent bridge across which they travel, my over-riding feeling on these occasions is a silent pleasure that they can actually be friends (albeit momentarily), and that they do have things in common, and maybe even “like” each other.

I know my twin sister and I were extremely different growing up, with diverse interests, friends, and career paths.  But as we got older and married and children entered our lives, we became great friends.  We talk regularly by phone, we see each other often, we delight in being and having a close family (along with our other sister I should add) and we’re always there for each other.

So when I see Man-Child I and Man-Child II occasionally united, and even looking like friends momentarily, I have renewed confidence that in time they will become good, even great friends, and be there for each other, and I hope their younger sister.  Because we all know that family is the most important thing you can have in the world.


World Wrestling April 11, 2010

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If you are ever short on entertainment, perhaps you could drop into our house for some live World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE on Pay TV for those who are fans!).  Yes, on any given night (normally when our 6-year-old daughter is trying to go to sleep) you will hear the sounds of two testosterone pumped boys doing their best impression of world wrestling right in their own lounge room.

Whilst we try to avoid it most nights, sometimes it’s just impossible to ignore the screams of Teen-Child –  he’s mastered the art of bellowing so much, that we now recognise it as simply a case of good acting, not actual injury, except maybe to his pride.  Coupled with the bellowing is a regular case of crocodile tears – just to extract maximum sympathy from any onlookers.  Meanwhile Man-Child – not one for tears – just channels all his energy into physical strength to ensure he doesn’t lose.  He is highly competitive.

To be honest, I have no idea who wins on any given night.  Occasionally we will watch with amusement, although I can’t really do this for very long.  I don’t like violence, even if it is healthy “play fighting” – and I use that term very loosely in the case of our boys.  Again, as very different boys I guess their differences are bound to boil over occasionally, and to result in physical attacks against each other.  I don’t imagine it’s any different in other houses with males of a close age.  I distinctly recall as a youngster  watching a friends teenage brothers chase each other around the kitchen table, and I was sure they were going to kill each other!  But then I was one of four girls, so my exposure to this sort of behaviour had been fairly limited – although trust me girls have their own unique version of fighting.

When our boys were little we always said they were like puppy dogs – always better after a good run in the park to burn off some energy.  Now as adolescent males, my view (and those of many others) is that they just can’t do enough sport.  It keeps them busy before and after school and on weekends, expends massive amounts of energy, and is a healthy alternative to some other activities they might otherwise choose.

Game on!