It’s been awhile since I’ve written in the “Memoirs From a Single Mother Raising A Boy”. A lot has happened, but I will give you my condensed version of the events that have taken place during this “Year of Testosterone”:
The last time I wrote (A Much Needed Night Out), a friend had invited me over to a dinner party and I was faced with the decision to leave my 12-year-old home alone (in the evening) for the first time. Well, that turned out to be a huge stepping stone for us; him gaining some independence and me loosening the apron strings (just a bit). Even though I have not been out since then, I have been able to leave him home alone more often. Still, there have been incidents that make me wonder if this is the right thing to do; like the time when the police called me at work to tell me that my neighbor saw 2 men walking around my house trying to look in the windows; and the time when the doorbell rang and my son opened the door because the person said they were the mailman (even though we had discussed never opening the door for ANYONE when I’m not home). Those two incidents made my heart stop, and I had to re-evaluate my parenting/sheltering ways. It was because of the first incident that I drilled my son (at least a thousand times) about the dos and don’ts of being home alone, and that had me freaking out about the second incident which makes me think that no matter how hard I try to prepare him, he’s going to do his own thing, and that frightens me to no end, but let me not digress.
My son is now 13 years old and WOW!!! I think it was 2 or maybe 3 weeks after he turned 13 that his mood swing and attitude kicked in full force. I’m convinced: PUBERTY IS AN ALIEN MONSTER. I have had to pull out books on boys and hormones, teenage emotions, etc., and it has challenged me, to say the least. I have talked, yelled, screamed, and begged, but I have found that the only way through this roller coaster ride is head down, teeth clenched, and feet forward. He is now 6’2” tall with facial hair and I even think I see muscles.
During the past 8 months I’ve talked to friends (male and female) and I’ve discarded some advice and practiced others. The one bit of advice that I found extremely helpful was from a fellow single mother who is raising a “middle linebacker” son. She told me to have him sit or “take a knee” when disciplining him. That was a big help since every time I would scold my son he would be glaring down at me, and I could swear he was snarling. Sitting him down and having him look up at me makes a big difference on how he listens to me.
I have been the do-it-all mom for the past 13 years, and because my son has always been an exceptional student (without much help from me), he did not have many chores. I always told him that he had his job (school) and I had mine. This year that changed. Somewhere between having this 6’2” boy/man asking me if his clothes were ironed or if his lunch was ready, I realized it was time for him to be more self-sufficient. Now he irons his own clothes, makes his own breakfast and lunch, takes out the trash, cleans his own bathroom, vacuums, and has more responsibility when it comes to the dog. Surprisingly enough there wasn’t a big battle to get him to do more chores (maybe it’s because he’s older), but I’m still working on getting him to do them without me asking (baby steps).
This year my son will be graduating from middle school and heading off to high school. The high school choice and application process aged me at least 2 years. This drama was about the battle over his friends parents allowing them to choose their own high school and his friends choosing to go to the same high school because they were all “best friends” and needed to stay together . . . uh, I don’t think so! Since the fourth grade, and before he had these “new” best friends, my son wanted to go to a mathematics and science high school. All of his classes have been advanced and he has kept up his grades, so when it came to applying to high school, “I” chose the mathematics and science school as his first choice. We went around and around about this life altering decision that I did not think he was old enough (or mature enough) to make on his own. He had prepared for so long but when the time came, he changed his mind because of a group pact . . . uh, no! His attitude wasn’t negative for long. After he finished the application process (writing the entrance essay, turning in his letters of recommendation, etc.), he got more and more excited. Every day he was checking the mail, waiting for his acceptance letter. The day the acceptance letter arrived, he was overjoyed! He hugged me and said, “Thanks for all of your hard work Mom, and thanks for pushing me.” I cried, because after all the talking, yelling, screaming, and begging, he understood. The next day he found out that 3 other kids from his school were also accepted, and I think that made him feel better too.
Also during this “Year of Testosterone”, my son needed $2,000 for an eighth grade educational trip to the East Coast. I had no idea where I could/would come up with that kind of money in 5 months, but I had heard such great things about the trip, and I didn’t want him to miss it. So, I bit the bullet and called his dad. Yep! That’s what I did. I hadn’t talked to him in over a year, and even though he went to jail once for lack of paying child support, he still hadn’t paid in over a year, but I called him. I told him his son needed $2,000 for a school trip. I gave him the beak down on all of his son’s accomplishments (6th, 7th, and 8th grade class president, advanced classes, straight “A” student, etc.) and I asked him to pay for the trip. He said a few things that I wasn’t really listening to, but it sounded like he said he could help, but . . . . I quickly cleared things up by saying I could only pay for the insurance for the trip, I would give our son spending money, and that was all that I would be able to do. Now, hold on to your seats . . . shocking events began to happen. For five months, my son’s father brought me money until the trip was paid for (the entire $2,000). That was nothing short of AMAZING! All of a sudden, he’s calling our son more and actually talking to him. I can tell he feels good about himself because he’s finally done something for the boy. Rest assured that each time he brought money, I gave him a receipt. It baffles me that he can come up with money for a trip, but live day by day not knowing if he will be arrested for lack of child support payments, but I have detached myself from that.
There have been a few other events since I last wrote, but those were the ones that stuck out in my mind the most. I’m sure there is more to come. We are both still growing and learning. I have found that, even though my son is extremely “book-smart”, he lacks certain “common-sense smarts” that are necessary for day-to-day living (they call it being a teenager). So, I am still on the journey, and I haven’t given up. I will keep pushing him, he will keep pushing me, and hopefully we will be able to meet somewhere in the middle. The “Year of Testosterone” is not over, but I do hope that it mellows out soon.
Peace & Blessings