Monday, May 11, 2009

Searching For the Re-Set

I am sitting here, a little chilly from the open windows, amid a cloud of smoke.  A certain someone, let's call him Mr. 12, is in the habit of putting bread in the toaster oven, setting the timer to a random time and then going off to finish that last chapter in his book.  Several dozen minutes later: smoke, fire, fire alarms, open windows and charred remains of toast.

Such is my life lately.  The 12 year old brain is promising to do me in.  I have read that the brain of adolescents rebuilds itself, which is why they can so often seem to be totally lacking in good judgement.  It seemed to such a reasonable hypothesis from the comfortable distance of age 8 or 9.  Living life with a person who is experiencing brain rebuilding is slightly less interesting from a scientific perspective and hugely more irritating.  

I have been trying to figure out what exactly about has been so challenging and I think it is the shock factor.  One day you believe that certain life lessons have been well absorbed and are thus no longer an issue.  And then you come home to find two people engaged in a physical and mental battle to the death, dinner has been dumped in the garbage because "I hate black beans," and a charming note on your bed stating "keep your crap out of my room."

Where do you even begin?  

I have been trying not to go into some automatic parental mode whereby I replicate every action and reaction that my parents had with me (not that they did such a terrible job, but there are areas worthy of improvement).   Also, it seems like some consciousness about what is happening on the part of at least one of us would be a welcome thing.   But this it is very difficult!  More than once I have had that disquieting experience of hearing my mother come out of my mouth.  And then my father.  

Dang it!  Why can't these children understand that my waters are still very cloudy over here?  Instead it is ding, ding, ding, pushing those buttons fast and furious.  Is there a pause button somewhere? 


OfTroy said...

I like to be helpful...but it worse before it gets better..

boys stink--that is they smell (to a mother at least) lethal..
and they eat and eat, and eat.
and they become daring (and stupid--in stupid ways--like burnt toast!)

they need challenges.. (hard labor... buy some wood and shovel and let your son build a club house in the back yard.
make him dig a foundation, mix and pour concrete (it comes in 90 lb bags--i know, he only weighs 90 lbs. but it will build muscle!)
for a foundation and build it himself..

or if not a club house some other big (hard work involved) project.

Its scary to see a child using a power tool (he could cut his fingers off!) but kids his age need to have something to do.

(a 200 years ago, he would be sent off to sea, or to an apprentiship and made to work long hours learning a craft..)
150years ago, he would have gone off to fight in civil war..
even 100 years ago, he would be close to be finished with formal schooling and sent off to work..

he needs (to think he has) autonomy... (and he still need hugs and cuddles and someone to be there for him! OH its a terrible age!

Patti Blaine said...

I went to sleep thinking about your post, Robyn, and woke up with one thought left: Your 12yo makes his own toast! Self-sufficiency is around the corner. Coming with it is separation from you, lots of mistakes, and god knows what else. Best of luck... to both of us!

Robyn said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Helen. They are helpful and I fully agree that sometimes the best solution is actually MORE responsibility. Mr. 12 does love to build things, so you may have hit the nail on the head (so to speak..hee, hee).

And yes, Patti! We need lots and lots of luck. This is such a strange time of needing to be very present with them and stepping away. I hope I (we) get it figured out at least a little bit before they move onward without us.

Taos Sunflower said...

My favorite moment from the movie "Mermaids" was when Cher lost it and told her girls that she was doing the best she could since they didn't come with operating manuals. Amen.

At age 12, my son went from resembling a beautiful, long legged fawn, to someone I never imagined (as my husband was like he even grew hair in the palms of his hands). However, we survived it. I was told, and it seemed true, that they get nice again around 19. Hang in there. All you can do is your best.

Anonymous said...

He will stop smelling like a puppy in a year or so. HOnest.. my dog smelt better thanhim at that age.

Then wait....

He will be 16 and you think you can finally slip away with the beloved for a romantic weekend away and leave him in trust of the house, the dog and a cupboard full of teenage snacks.

Wrong. Dog gets out, friends raid the stash, teenage sex all over the house and a whole new weird smell.

Taos Sunflower said...

Amen. My son did that and the neighbors are still talking about the party he had (and that was 18 years ago).

Oh..and shoes always had to live outside or we'd have to haz mat the house.

Robyn said...

um....these comments are NOT making me feel better!! Prepared, maybe. But better? No. : )