I have a difficult time with disrespect. My blood pressure rises when a lack of respect is shown toward me. When it comes from my children, I cannot move beyond that moment in time when I hear that barrel full of words of disregard for me as a human, aimed right at my head.
I feel we are to respect everyone we share space with. If we share a home and live with them, it goes double. If that person you interact with is the one who bore you, it rises to the millionth degree. I idealistically believe that if we show respect to our children, that they will mirror that back to us. So far, so good...until the piece of your heart that goes walking around outside of your body begins making testosterone by the gallonfuls.
I always knew I'd have exactly the tricks up my sleeve that I needed for being the mother of teens. I had such fresh memories of how I was raised during this part of my life, that I knew a whole lot about what NOT to do. That's all you need to know, right, what NOT to do? I never thought I'd need to have the ace in my pocket of what TO do.
Why am I awake right now, at 1:30 a.m., sitting on the sofa eating chocolate chips thinking of what happened in our home tonight, instead of sleeping the sleep I need so much? Because I love my children and when miscommunication between us escalates to a level where you start thinking how much you'd love to have them get their own bodies back and forth to where they need to go, make their own dinners, keep track of their own schedules and Dr. appointments -- well, that's not a healing, productive train of thought for anybody. No matter how good it feels. I am awake, buzzing with thoughts of what I should have done with my teen tonight; asking myself how I could have parented better. These thoughts of pro action are being interrupted by whizzing personal reprimands of all the triggers that flew from my side and right onto him.
I know what I could have done differently now, eight hours later, and it would've been the right thing to do. The mature, zen seeking mother I want to be Plan of Action. I have it. Right here, in three simple steps, how to put out that adolescent fire.
Taming a Teen in Three Simple Steps:
Step 1: So easy, just shuttup. Pretend you don't feel the sting of their words that feel so personal. Let them wail, vent, curse, explode at the crappy day they had. Don't interject, don't advise, don't smirk at the perceived miniscule events they're ranting on. Now is not the time. Listen, and drive: your two jobs.
Step 2: Go to your happy place when they tell you it's your fault they missed that important meeting/assignment/deadline. Later, you can bring up their own scheduling capabilities. The flame is high, don't throw the corn oil on it--avoid that after school explosion. If you need to, keep driving and take the long way home. When it all simmers down, show them how to keep track of school, sports, work, assignments, meetings, on their own calendars.
Step 3: This should have been Step 1, really. Pick them up with a snack in the car. Low blood sugar, a disappointing day, a minor break out on the cheek, and it's every man for himself. Have a bagel, have a travel pak of Pringles, have something. Let them crunch and munch and carb load while they unload. It won't hurt.
Warning: Be open to accepting a heartfelt apology from them when they give it, not when you're ready to receive it. As much as the non parent ego person that still lives inside you from years ago wants to shout, Fresh Wound! Damn straight you should be apologizing ...did you hear what you said to me? Don't do it. With a generous and unconditionally loving spirit, accept and thank them for their apology. They don't like being little sh*ts, either. And they know when they've been one. Just like we do.
UNDER no circumstance ever say, even under your breath, I can't wait till you're away for college. Never sink that low. We are the adult, they're not. Instead, think things like, Wow. You're sure ready to be on your own.
Keep a mantra ready. Mine is, This, too, shall pass. I've been using it for the last 16 years.
Most importantly, know that I do accept shipments of boxed wine. I find the crisp green apple from Franzia a delightful white that dances on the tongue.