Whenever the moods of my teen agitate me to the point I lose my composure, I feel tremendous guilt later.
It’s funny how this works with parenting. An honest reaction to something absurd he says or more often in our case something he does not do ends up resulting in me feeling bad.
Nine times out of 10 I keep a level head and have no regrets with how I respond to him. I try to keep it business like, saying something along the lines of, “I understand today’s date is June 8, summer is near and you don’t want to study for geography, but the final is June 9.” His response goes something like this, “It doesn’t really matter, it’s just 10% of my grade anyway.”
I have learned the less engagement with a temperamental teen is best. I understand well this is the best approach for me, but I don’t have always put it into practice. P.am and I try to approach parenting with levity. Humor is the best approach during periods of lunacy and absurdity. Laughter truly is the best medicine, but there are limits, however.
An example would be a recent morning when I was trying to keep things light with him. The conversation went something like this.
Me: So really where do you think all those Gatorade bottles went that we bought you (about a dozen)?
Him: I don’t know.
Me: I mean, really, do you think they are in your locker or your gym locker maybe?
Me: How about you take a look since it’s your last week?
Him: I might do that.
Me: How about you make me a promise you will look?
Him: Okay I will.
Him: Yes I hope to.
Me: What does that mean?
Him: It means I might.
Me: You might what?
Him: I might look.
Me: For what?
Him: I don’t even know anymore.
Me: All those green Gatorade bottles you have lost over the last year?
Him: Oh, those, I think were stolen (as car door slams on his way off to school).
Me: Please look (he doesn’t look back).
When he got home later, I asked him if he ever came across the bottles, and he looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about. I believed him.
Another conversation about studying for finals was equally frustrating. He had two exams this week with two more next week. It’s painfully obvious he is done with school and ready for summer. The chat went something like this.
Me: How’s science studying going?
Him: I have geography first.
Me: Yes on Thursday and today is Tuesday. You need to be studying for both ahead of time.
Him: Why? I can study for science after geography Thursday.
Me: It’s too much to leave for one night.
Him: I will get confused and answer science stuff on the geography exam.
Me: I don’t think you will confuse life science terms with where Malaysia is on a map.
Him: I might.
Me: I don’t think it’s possible.
Him: I would rather focus on geography now.
Me: Okay, it’s not smart.
Him: That’s nice, you don’t think I’m smart.
Me: I never said that.
Him: Yes you did.
Me: I meant that approach is not smart.
Him: Same difference.
Me: I just want you to study some each night for the two exams this week. Over the weekend, you can get ready for the other two.
Him: Great, so I’m going to have to study all weekend.
Me: I never said that.
Him: Mom is going to make me.
Me: Nobody is going to take away the whole weekend, but you need to be prepared so you do well.
Him: I wonder if the teachers even grade the finals anyway?
Me: Why do you say that?
Him: It doesn’t say on our report card what we got. We never see the graded exams.
Me: Well, they wouldn’t give you a test without grading it.
Him: They might.
Me: So when are you studying?
Him: I’m going now.
Me: (After 30 minutes alone in his room) What’s going on?
Him: Oh, … called so I had to talk to her.
Him: She needed help with her school work
Him: I mean …
Me: Just study man.
As I walked away taking a deep sigh, a message I screenshot from the Raising Teens Today website came to mind. It read, “One day… you wake up and they’re 13, then 16, then 19. In a blink, it’s all a memory and you wish you could go back and change a few things. Don’t wait … make those changes today. Focus on the good. Don’t take it all so personally. Stop being so serious .. it’ll be okay. Don’t get caught up in the small stuff. Love ‘em hard every single day.”
This warms the heart, right? It does mine when I read it. It’s good to have goals for sure.