Sunday, September 8, 2013

About the alien who has taken over my son...

Other possible titles for this post:

"Did you brush your teeth?"

"Wash your face!"

"Did you remember to put on deodorant?"

"Are you ready for bed yet?

"Will you stop looking at (insert screen here) and please (insert task here).

My son has always been easily distracted. And willing to let others do things for him. But holy cow, lately? He's been taken over by an alien. An alien who has erased all memories of being able to take care of himself in the most basic ways. Add braces to the equation and his tendency for (dare I say laziness?) has spiraled out of control.

I am constantly harping on him for everything. Everything! And it makes me feel like the crappiest, most impatient parent ever, but I can't stop correcting him, getting irritated at his selfishness and inability to do anything for himself or anyone else which requires effort. Or time. Or mental strain. It's making me crazy.

Take last night. We'd had a great night, watched Neverending Story on Amazon together, went out to dinner, had dessert. The TV was on and the kids still had time before bedtime (which, on Saturday night, isn't super taxing anyway.) There was a big basket of laundry and so Shane and I were folding it. In an attempt to not sound like I was harping (as I had all. day. long.) I said to my 12-year old "Wow, people are folding laundry! Wouldn't it be cool if other people chipped in to help without being asked?" He completely ignored me. So I said it again in a similar fashion as he's walking past me to the kitchen to get something to eat. In fact, he trips right over my hand as he steps over me and the laundry on his way. Still nothing. I fume. I mentally scream at him. I shoot a few dirty looks across to him in the kitchen. Then, as I walk over to put away the kitchen towels, he looks at me. "What?" All innocent comes out of his mouth.

"Oh, nothing. Just dissapointed. You know fully well 'what'."

Seriously, internet, I am going crazy. Was he always this hard? I don't remember harping on him over everything all summer long. I mean, I'm not always 100% excited about what he does or how he spends his time, but I don't remember being mad at him constantly the way I am now. Maybe my expectations have changed. Something about him turning 12 has made me think/hope/expect that he's, you know, TWELVE, and able to do things like fold a blanket or use the can opener or fold some laundry without too much strain on my part.

Is this what I am in for? Is it some strange reaction to the stress of junior high that has changed his personality? Have my expectations of him changed too drastically for him to respond appropriately? Is it too much to ask of someone this age to know how to get ready for bed and be able to perform it without me hovering over every step? Is he just a teenager? Do I just have to wait for his personality to come back when he turns, oh, 27 or something?

I want my kid back. I want to stop being THIS mom. I'm tired of the conflict and the drama and the constant nagging. Please don't tell me "welcome to the teenage years." I can't hear that because it means that the alien who has taken over is here to stay and I really want to love that person who can (at times and fleeting moments, like today when I saw him in a borrowed tie, anxiously waiting for the bishop to be served the sacrament before he went about his duties as a deacon) be really fun and amazing. I want more of that kid, and less of the alien.


Amy Sorensen said...

OK. I won't tell you "welcome to adolescence." Even though, know!

For us, what has made things a little bit less annoying is remembering two things: 1. It's not about you. 2. Only push back on what really matters.

Number one helps when they're being rude or mean or snarky. Even when it's directed towards you, it's not ABOUT you. The second one helps...every. single. day.

As for the laundry, I don't fold my kids' for them anymore. I sort the clean laundry into their own small basket, and there is no screen time allowed unless they've folded it themselves.

And the last thing: The only difference between a toddler and a teenager is that you don't have to wipe your teenager's bum. (THANK GOODNESS!!!) Seriously. All the stuff you did to keep yourself sane when he was a toddler? Totally works on teenagers too. Namely, give them as many choices as you can. And practice ignoring their bad behavior and rewarding the hell out of the good behavior.

(With the caveat that "bad behavior" doesn't mean dangerous stuff. No sex, drugs, drinking, porn, or Ouija boards should be ignored!)


Britt said...

I think you just gave me a glimpse into my future.