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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Review of My Life As a Mother of a Teenager

For those of you reading this who are the parents of young children, let me give you a spoiler. The news aint good.

What happens to children when they hit puberty? I mean, what strange mixture of hormones and chemicals raging through the bloodstream changes them, seemingly overnight, from your little darling… to your big pain in the ass?

I remember a post I once made on my personal blog, about my thoughts on “teenagers”. I wouldn’t allow my children to become these mythical creatures, I declared with pig-headed, blissful ignorance. Oh no. Not my boys. My sons had been raised to be respectful and loving toward their parents, and I couldn’t possibly see them morphing into these awful people I’d heard about, sullen, uncommunicative, acne-faced and squinty-eyed. We would always have a close, loving relationship. They would talk to me, confide in me, and most importantly, listen to my never-ending wisdom. HA.

Little did I know that I had no say in the matter, one way or another.

When my older son first hit puberty, when his baby fat melted overnight and he shot up to stand towering above me, I was thrilled. All I could do was look at this magnificent young man that had come from me, from me, and be overwhelmed at his vitality, his health, his gorgeousness.

It wasn’t long after the first signs of impending teenagehood that he apparently lost the ability to hear. At first I thought nothing of it, I repeated myself, once, twice, three times. I even considered the possibility that he had an ear infection or something like that, to explain the fact that every time I spoke, I was answered with either silence or, more often, “Huh?” This clever phrase was usually accompanied by a bored glace as he ripped his eyes off the screen of the television or computer. Once or twice, I had a “long talk” with him, brimming over with positively insightful utterances, to which I believed he was listening raptly, only to finish with, “Well? What do you think?” I’d nudge his shoulder.

“Huh?” Blank stare as he lifted the tiny earphones of his I-pod off his head.

His language became peppered with obscenities. I’ve never really cared if my kids said the occasional “bad word”. It wasn’t that big of a deal, and I, proud and idiotic as always, knew enough to “pick my battles.” But now, now it seemed very other word out of my little boy’s mouth was “shit” or “bitch” and even the horror of all naughty words, the king of them all…the cringe-worthy “fuckin’”. When I complained that he had become a regular potty-mouth and could he please clean it up, a little, at least in front of his Grandma, say?… I was met with the now-familiar blank stare. And, “Huh?”

Then he became Mr. MIA. Where once this child begged to go along with me even to grocery store, now I hardly ever saw him at all. From the moment he got up last summer, at the crack-o-dawn hour of one in the afternoon, he was gone. He would arrive home at one second until curfew, stomping in the door and straight past my come-talk-to-me-my-son smile to his bedroom as I sniffed the air swirling in his wake. Was that cigarette smoke I smelled?? Or a different kind of smoke?????

I suddenly didn’t know who his friends were, and the occasional shifty-eyed boy waiting for him in the front yard didn’t look too promising if this was an example of his new crowd. Family trips were tortures we’d devised to spoil his important plans. Invitations to family get-togethers, the same. The last time he ate with us, I thin he was sick and couldn’t leave the house.

His clothing began to morph, too. All of a sudden his jeans and t-shirts seemed to have as much of a growth spurt as he had. All of them grew baggier overnight and as if he didn’t have enough problems with the onset of young adulthood, he now faced the additional trouble of trying to keep his pants from falling off him as he stood. Then there was the hooded sweatshirt that had apparently melded itself to his body. I don’t think he’s taken it off in six weeks at least. To wash the damn thing, I might have to challenge him to pistols at dawn.

My child, as white and middle class as wonder bread, now listens to rap, and I’m sorry, I know I sound old, but damn, have you ever listened to the lyrics???? I’ve puzzled over why he identifies with this music, what parallels he could possibly draw between the rapping, gun-weilding thugs with their hoes and niggas, and his pleasant little small-town life where the biggest excitement happens when the local flock of turkeys invade someone’s yard and won’t back down from a broom. I mean, that’s what da damn pigs deal with in this hood.

I slap bitches in the face and give em Jay-Z lips
Make them sign their life off so they can pay me chips
I cut hoes so much I should sell band aids
Give bitches sandwiches with handmade mayonnaise
I put bitches on the stroll hall
Plus I control hoes like remote control suped remote controlled cars
Code blow hoe on 'em like the internet
Got my dick in her neck and ain't even took her to dinner yet
Fuck that I ain't taken her to dinner
I'll bring her to a diner get behind and go up in her
You fuckin' with losers
I'm a winner I'm gone in summer hot in the winter
Fuck hungry I'm ready for dinner HA!
Bitches don't know the low
'Bout to slap your ass off the endo smoke
I'm in the club straight goin' for broke
Sellin' bitches everything even low key dope

This boy used to tremble in fear when anyone ever said a cross word to him. Lately, though, he’s spending more time in detention than in the classroom and the eye-popping, enraged teachers complaining about him affect him in the manner of annoying, little flies buzzing around his head. So a word to warning for those of you with small children… it’s coming. You can fight it, you can plan against it, but oh yeah, it’s coming, so get prepared.

He’s always been smart, but you’d never guess it to look at him now. He’s always been kindhearted but if I mentioned the word “nice” to him nowadays, I already know the response I’d get.


I’m now dreaming of the day when he steps through the door on the other side of adolescence. I’m curious to see what remains of the original personality he grew in there.


Blogger The Pagan Temple said...

You know what the back of your hand is for, don't you?

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Kaat...

(Sigh.) I know I've talked about this before. All I can say is that they DO emerge. We can only hope that it's without (too bad of) a criminal record and most of their brain cells.

The other day Tall Son and I were laughing about the time he was arrested for auto theft...

That story's for another day. Anyway, now he's a construction foreman out-earning me by a bunch.

I often dealt with it with humor. I suspect you do, too.

The alternative is tears.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My partner’s daughter is 12... her metamorphosis is bewildering and frustrating as hell at times. I try to remember my own teenage years... I was admittedly more-than-a-handful at times – fashion rebel, punk/metal music addict, smoking and drinking. But I never copped the attitude (e.g. with parents and other authority figures) that she so liberally does. Sometimes I have to remind myself to pick my jaw up off the floor.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

Haha.. I haven't yet given into the temptation to introduce him to the back o' the hand. If he would even notice is the question.
Bitty, your words of wisdom have kept me hanging in there since this whole nasty puberty thing started! I get kind of cringey when I think of the dorkiness of what I used to write. I'm glad you don't laugh at my face!
And yep, I was a "bad" kid myself, so I do have hopes of him coming out on the other side a reasonable human being... but yeah, it's amazing the... uh, GALL these kids have. if your partner's daughter is anything like my kid, unfazed would be the word to describe reactions to "punishment".

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure I have any wisdom to offer, but I am sure I've never thought you were writing dorkiness.


8:11 AM  
Blogger Orhan Kahn said...

I'm glad you see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He will be a man soon and you will love him even more for becoming one.. if he doesn't get himself sent to prison. Here's to hoping.

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh baby girl, no kiddies for me to date, but I remember first watching my older brother (with me swiftly on his heels) doing this to my mother.

Well actually, not "doing this to her" but "behaving like this around her". In hindsight, thinking about this as an adult, I believe there comes a day when each of us wakes up and realizes (deep, deep down inside where we can't actually put our finger on it or express it in words) that we are the only ones we will ever have - to depend on, to rely on, to turn to - as we all come to realize that while our parents love us, protect us and want to care for us forever unconditionally, that's just not realistic or ideal.

So, we begin to "fend for ourselves" in strange ways perceived as self-preservation. By pushing our parents, caretakers, protectors away, we are bracing ourselves to learn how to live in the big, bad world without them. While on the surface, it appears to be callous, self-involvement it's more like, I can and will do this without you because, in the end of the day, I have to. Today I can say I felt that way when I was a teenager, when I began disconnecting. That's why it does shift again as we come out the other side and move toward adulthood.
I wholeheartedly feel that being a mom must be the toughest gig in the entire world.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knocked out by the real life :-)
I have still the dream that my boy will love metal music as I do. Hopefully.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

Wow, Michele, you blew me away with that one, you're absolutely right. It's the disconnecting that's hard, at least on the mom's side. When you realize that your baby *is* actually going to fend for themself. Yech.
Bahnfaher I'm glad you stopped by. You better pray against the evil demon of rap music, because I was a metalhead in my younger years, too.

7:51 AM  

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