Of Pudding Bowls and The Best Days of Your Life

Some mornings it’s really hard to find the funny side of anything.

Today started with my youngest howling and gnashing his teeth like someone has died.  Because he doesn’t like his haircut.

Admittedly there’s lots not to like.  He kind of looks like someone put a bowl over his head and went crazy with the shears on anything left showing.  I don’t think he ever aspired to join the Marines but he’s certainly trying out the do.

Still, the severity of the cut did serve a purpose – namely revealing the mass of scaly, scabby patches all over his head.  How he could have failed to notice it when washing his hair I can’t imagine, but he was as surprised as any of us.  I feel quite bad for the poor, traumatized hairdresser who seemed amazed that I didn’t know about  it, but frankly I don’t spend a lot of time inspecting the scalps of any of my teenagers.

Anyway, to return to this morning, apparently the issue was not just the haircut – that was just the last straw in a life filled with tragedy and emptiness.  Not only was he about to be subjected to track and field day, which consists of six hours playing outside with his friends and eating popsicles, but he is generally quite irate that he has to waste 12 years of his life at school learning nothing.  Frankly it’s a wicked waste of his valuable time and intellect.

Why is it that we spend 12 years detesting school and longing for the day we can escape, and then the rest of our lives wishing we were back there?


There’s Just so Much Crazy!

One of the most stressful parts of this whole business of the emptying nest is that I now have a houseful of people over whom I have a rapidly diminishing amount of control.

And believe me there isn’t much sign of the rational problem solving and self-control that one might expect to come with maturity.

Traumatic as they were at the time, the crises of childhood and pre-adolescence were at least short-lived.  The chocolate bar pried from determined little hands at the supermarket check-out, or the tiff with a friend may have seemed like the end of the world at the time, but you could at least be sure that within 5 minutes the healing would begin.

Oh how I dream of those explosively brief over-reactions.  Nowadays the dramas are bigger, the voices are louder and frankly the language is taking on some brutally vivid shades of nutjob.

My youngest just saved up his money and bought a second-hand dirt bike which so far has been nothing but trouble and is proving to be less than a bargain.  He’s murderously angry …  and so like a man in his determination to assign blame for everything.

If I had $1,000 in spare change under the sofa cushions I would toss the stupid thing out and buy him a new one with a nice shiny guarantee.  I know, I know … I’m told by friends and acquaintances all over that children should be taught fiscal responsibility and respect for their belongings by buying their own stuff.  My weakness is clearly the cause of the dysfunction in this family, and I can only imagine the harmony that exists in the houses of those lucky folk who have it all so figured out, and whose children, presumably, are perfect.

The teen heartbreak of course continues.  My daughter still pines over a young man who tossed her aside under pressure from his fanatical family, and apparently God.  Neither of them is moving on because neither of them wanted to break-up, but it turns out it’s not that easy to get over someone who keeps texting to say how much they miss you.

It’s touching that he feels close enough to my daughter to pass on all the terrible things his mother says about her, but it’s not doing much for her self-esteem.

I’m trying to stay open-minded and accept that Mrs Stepford is really only doing what she feels is best for her son, even though that involves running roughshod over his feelings – and those of the caring, bright and highly respectable girl that he loves.  In fact, in a perverse kind of way I almost envy her that single-minded certainty; is it possible that free-thought, common sense and logic are over-rated?  It must be quite comfortable to just do and believe whatever you’re told regardless of whether it’s right or rational.

For some reason this post has taken me days to write – possibly because I feel like I’m absorbing and assimilating all the crazy and I’m really trying not to rant (too much!).

So, I will sign off for now and sail off in search of calmer waters.

Shedding a Maternal Tear

Two of my children are driving me to tears right now, and for very different reasons.

My sixteen year old son has been having a hard time of it, poor chap.  He’s been totally disengaged at school; disinterested in pretty much anything except hanging out with his friends.  And of course living the nightmare of having to deal with moron parents who hassle him despite their complete cluelessness.

Yes, he was a bit of a lost soul … until the start of this school year. Suddenly his grades started to pull back up, and he got a job in a restaurant washing dishes.  Frankly I was a little nervous about how long he would keep the job, but far from quitting after a few weeks, he worked like a rock star.  They marvelled over his prowess at clearing the kitchen of dirty dishes, and before we knew it he was promoted to food prep, and then to cooking.  They love him!

All very nice for his satisfied employers, but even better than that – we seem to be getting our son back.  He’s smiling and chatting, and starting to act like he almost wants to be part of this family.  He just passed his driving test, is saying thank-you for stuff and offering to be helpful all over the place.

I’m not afraid to admit that I choke up on a regular basis just thinking about how wonderful it is to have him back.

On the other hand my daughter is still suffering the pangs of heartbreak and it’s hard to stay detached from her drama.

On a positive note she’s been accepted to a drama school and I know that September will bring a renewed confidence and sense of purpose.

On the other hand she is still getting stomped on by the mormons.  After the forced demise of a relationship that apparently God and the boy’s family couldn’t tolerate, the two of them managed to come to a kind of friendly peace with each other.  Yes that might sound like a satisfactory outcome, but no … the family freaked at the idea of them being even friends.  He was forbidden from seeing her, lest she distract their beloved man-child from his mission.

My poor baby!

On the one hand I’m so grateful that, as a self-employed freelancer working from a home office, I can be there for her to support and distract her when she needs a shoulder.  On the other hand I’m starting to wonder if she mightn’t be stronger if I wasn’t around to sympathize (and enable?).

Is there such a thing as too much parenting?