The teen wasn't always a teen, surprisingly enough. When he wasn't a teen he would do things like, hide dog chews under buckets in the back yard and lead the dog around them, pretending he was a sniffer dog trainer.
He now looks at the dog occasionally.
He used to spend hours building great big elaborate structures out of Lego. Now there is a big empty space under his bed where the Lego tub used to be.
It now gets filled with empty chip packets and screwed up bits of paper.
He used to jump on the trampoline, now he lies on it, chatting on his phone.
Things never used to annoy him, now everything annoys him. His brother and sister annoy him, his dad and I annoy him, and the cat annoys him. My vacuuming annoys him, life annoys him.
He has attitude, MASSIVE attitude, it makes me angry, and he gets angry back. He is angry a lot.
I have screamed at him. He rolls his eyes back.
This week I used the phrase, "I AM YOUR MOTHER!!" right in his bum fluff covered little face.
I went to bed hating myself.
He doesn't find many things exciting anymore, trips to the basketball, Maccas, the beach, Easter egg hunts... they used to be met with excited squeals and on the spot jumping.
Now? Nothing!! The kid reacts to NOTHING!!!
He doesn't chat much anymore, not to me anyway, unless he is back chatting.
He talks to his friends, constantly. I can't help but feel a little bit jealous of them, Especially when I hear him erupt in uproarious laughter from his room, or when I hear muffled conversation from the Xbox that make him happy, and then when he emerges from his room, his smile is gone and replaced with a look of modest disdain.
The conversations we do have consist of me asking questions and him mumbling monosyllabic answers, when he does initiate conversation, it is often while his head is buried deep in the fridge, and usually it is the occasion grunts of "Wsssfrtea"
Which I think translates to "what's for tea” other times he begins conversations accusingly, like "Where is my..?" or "who's been touching my stuff" or” Why I can’t..?"
He was never any trouble as a little kid. He never got a smack, He very occasionally gets a time out, and he would sit there.
Just accept his punishment and sit there till time out was up. It would make me feel sorry for him, that he was so good.
Now, Sometimes.. I want to punch him square in the nose. Like punch him, punch him. I would never of course, but sometimes I want to.
Sometimes he glares at me, and I find myself glaring back, I AM HIS MOTHER!!
The mother who glares at him.
We had an argument recently, I was standing in the kitchen, making dinner, and he stomped out of his room and into the kitchen to call me a liar.
I looked at him, puzzled, and enquired what it is I lied about.
He replied that I said I would make an appointment for him to get a haircut that afternoon, and I didn't, therefore, I was a liar.
I told him to "come off it, that I forgot"
I wasn't apologizing for forgetting either, he could get fucked. I was busy. It was a haircut for crying out loud. GIIIIT stuffed.
I didn't say that but I wanted to.
Instead I told him to make his own flipping appointment if it was that important to him. I marched over to the phone and prodded him with it, I said,
“Here’s the phone, here, take it... TAKE IT!!" I reminded him that he had his own phone even, the phone that I bought the credit for, despite him not doing his chores twice last week.
Well done Emma... FAAARK.
He was so angry with me, I was now angry with him.
He turned on one foot and stomped off only to return with angrier. His face was red; he was speaking to me as though he hated me. He went on to list three other injustices brought to him as a direct result of something I had done, or not done.
I told him that he didn't even know what he was angry about and to get outside and blow off some steam.
In my mind I screamed, NOW!! Before I punch you in the nose.
I watched him through the kitchen window, pushing the excited dogs away from him in disgust and I sent silent messages of 'wait until your father gets home' to him.
I thought about him, the little him in time out and I wanted to cry. Where did he go?
And then I looked out the kitchen window.
He was sitting in a chair outside, in his time out, like he was told, just like when he was little.
He sat just sat there.
I gave him a minute and I went to him.
I handed him a drink of lemonade and I said I was sorry for forgetting about his hair appointment.
He told me it was OK.
I told him it wasn't OK to talk to me like that.
He began to talk, not to grunt, but to talk.
It was then I realised it wasn't about me. It was about him. Everything was about him, he was fourteen. Of course it was.
I was taking these things so personally; it had nothing to do with me. Meeting his anger with anger was never going to work.
I told him how I felt, I used me words, I felt like, I thought you..
To my Surprise, he grunted back his own me words.
He felt like, he wanted, he thought..
He agreed to make his own hair appointment, because he was old enough to do that, and then it came out.
He was old enough to do a lot of things, like make hair appointments, but too young to do many more things. He was in between.
Being fourteen is in between and sucks sometimes. I told him I remembered how much it sucked.
My little boy was still my boy, but he is no longer an extension of myself. He is his own person, an almost man.
I was taking so many of his actions and words to heart, but it wasn't about me.
He still relied on me for so many things, Things he wanted to control.
I was the bringer of meals, the keeper away-er of younger siblings from his stuff, the buyer of sports shoes, the maker of appointments and the enforcer of boundaries.
He so desperately wants to be a separate person from me; he wants to control his own world.
The world that is just beginning for him.
He wanted to control his hair and, his world.
I promised that I would try my best to remember his feelings, and that he was his own person. He promised he would try to remember mine, and to put his feelings into words.
I promised I'd listen.
This is just the start.
For now I'm strapping myself in, and learning, as he is learning. I have to trust him, and to trust him, I have to trust that I have done OK as his mum so far. That he knows right from wrong, good from bad. That he is no longer an extension of me, or a reflection of me even.
That it is not always about me.
He is his own, and boundaries are still needed, I just have to learn to make them bigger every now and again. Especially when he is butting against them with anger, I need to listen.
I willhave to continue to make the boundaries bigger, and bigger and bigger, and not always when I feel it is necessary, but when he feels it is necessary. Bit by bit, till the whole world is his.
One haircut at a time.