Thursday, March 17, 2005

Puberty and Brain Death

My son is growing into a young man. Puberty has been tough - tougher on me than him I think. He knows how to push my buttons, and does so with vigor every chance he gets. He knows that I have my limit on what I can and will tolerate though. Lately his mouth has been getting the better of him.

He thinks that I am the stupidest person on the planet. That's OK, that's a normal part of growing up. I may have my days where I wonder about how smart it was to produce a child and I question my sanity, but the one thing I won't tolerate in my home is disrespect. He doesn't have to like what I say, he can be as angry as he wants, but he will show me respect by gorry!

Last Wednesday morning he crossed the line. He mouthed off and said things to me that made my Grandmother turn over in her grave. I calmly looked him square in the eye and told him: "When you see your father Saturday, you ask him if you can move in with him. I refuse to continue putting up with your lack of respect and abuse. See how far you get with that mouth before he knocks your block off." The deer in the headlight eyes told me that he knew I wasn't messing around. The "Oh shit, I did it this time" face. He hit a sphincter factor of 15. I had made my point, he went off to school and I went off to work without further incident.

I left a list of things for him to do before I got home from work. Simple chores; make your bed, clean the cat box, take out the trash, approximately 45 minutes worth of work. He called when he got in from school, I cooly told him to do everything on the list before I got home and hung up. My way of letting him know he was not off the hook.

Now I understand how puberty makes kids go a little haywire. All those hormones surging through their bodies makes them moody and sullen. They're becoming their own person, establishing independence. What the experts don't tell you is that puberty causes them to go brain dead at times.

You see, they only have enough brain function allotment for school, the rest is choked off by raging hormones. Once they use up the 6 or so hours available doing math problems, english and biology.. etc. They just go completely brain dead. That includes everything that you have taught them up to this point. Common sense stuff like coming in out of the rain, wearing a coat when it's 20 degrees out and lifting the toilet seat are all blocked by the incessant rush of testosterone and estrogen.

Case in point:
My son knew he was on my shit list BIG TIME. He truely wanted to try and make up for being an obnoxious ass. He knows how good he has it living with me. No way he would want to go to his fathers. Seriously, his father can't handle a weekend, nevermind full time! The solution? Clean the entire house before I get home.
Good idea in theory, but there was something lacking in the execution.
So what do I find when I walk through the door?
My darling son cleaning windows. He has two windows out of the frames laying on the floor. How thoughtful. IF, you overlook the fact that it's twelve (yes, 12) degrees out. IF, you overlook the fact that he turned the heat off (yes, off). IF, you overlook the fact that not one single thing was completed on the list (not one). I wasn't in a mood to overlook the facts. His brain function had stopped.
"Do you think it's a good idea to turn the heat off when it's 12 degrees out?" Blank stare. "Do you think it's a good idea to open the windows when it's 12 degrees out?" Still nothing. "Do you think it's a good idea to start a big project BEFORE you have completed what I asked you to do?" Tears start welling in his eyes, his bottom lip is trembling. The nerves are once again firing in his brain.

I retreat to my bedroom and lay on the bed, too exhausted to even deal with this child at the moment. Then the guilt hits. He was trying to do something good and right. What did I do? I stomped all over him. He can't help the fact that he has brain lapses - he's 14 for crying out loud. He is doing the best he can with what he has at the moment. He was just trying to make it right. Arrrg! I'm a bad Mommy. I drift off to sleep for an hour.

I awake and enter the now clean living room. He has cooked hot dogs and mac & cheese. There are candles on the table, and a letter. A very neatly written letter with earnest and wise beyond his years words written on it. I read as the tears drop to the page. An apology, and a promise to be better. He's a good kid with the best of intentions at heart.

I hug him. We eat. I turn the heat back on, it's 55 degrees in the house. He will completely forget everything that transpired this day. He will will mouth off and disrespect me again.
He's 14 and brain dead. He will grow out of it.

Tomorrow is another day.


Batonga said...

I read your post and feelings and memories of the hell I put my parents through, to where I am now, flashed in my head. I wish you the best of luck and though I don't have the right or experience to say much, I will say, at the end, you mentioned that he wouldn't remeber what had happened the next day, and yes your right he is 14 and that is that, but he will remember it one day, and that memory will be more powerful and shaping than you know. I'll be visiting with my mom this weekend. It is those types of memories that stand out for me, and makes us as close as we are today. It has taken alot, but then again all good families do. Good luck and I mean that with a lot of sincerity.

Magazine Man said...

Oh God, the logic of boys. Don't do the list, EVERYONE does the list. Do something she'll NEVER expect (and probably not be happy about but never mind).

Not that I have any PERSONAL experience with this form of damage control. Nope, not me.

I LOVE that he turned off the heat. Didn't want mom to come home and see the open windows and say, "What, are we heating the outside?" Ah, that great screwy logic. It's like having a teen Bizarro in the house. Not that I would know.

But my mom would...

shane nickerson said...

What you have to remember is that at 14, he doesn't think of you as an actual person with feelings. He thinks of you as the mom. Two totally different things.

I'm glad you started blogging. This entry choked me up a bit.

Sharfa said...

Batonga - Years down the road I am sure he will remember, and I will happily refresh his memory often about this and all the dumb stuff he hasn't done yet. That's Mother's prerogative. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

MM - Exactly. Of course I was NEVER like that. Right.

Shane - Yup. I'm just the Mom.
Thanks. I'm enjoying it so far. I am so not a perfect Mom (is there such a thing?). I screw up just like my kid does, but I love him more than life itself. Hopefully he'll only need minimal therapy when he grows up. I never read the fine print when I got pregnant - Instructions not included.