I work with a lot of people who have young children. I used to watch them and be so grateful that I wasn’t the one having to schlep around diaper bags and strollers anymore. I was so happy that, in my life, there was no more guessing about what my children needed or wanted. They were finally old enough that we could fully communicate with and understand one another.
But that warm, fuzzy feeling skittered to a painful halt several months ago. That’s because my 15-year-old—my unbelievably bright, normally sweet and loving 15-year-old—suddenly developed the inability to comprehend the English language. Specifically, the word “no”.
I don’t know if it’s some sort of rite of passage or whether he’s simply testing his boundaries, but the boy seems to be in a desperate search for the worst punishment his dad and I can dole out. (And, of course, I should point out that my husband isn’t usually an actual witness to the disobedience. That’s primarily reserved for me — the pushover. ) And it’s not that our son is chronically disobedient. Usually, he’s great. But we’ve noticed a recent and disconcerting trend toward arrogance and entitlement that’s making us crazy.
Case in point: last Sunday. My husband and I were on the tail end of a lovely, rare weekend away while the kids spent quality time with Grandma. As my husband and I were boarding the plane for home, my son sent me a text message informing me that he wanted to see a movie with his friends at a theater about 25 minutes from our house. I told him that we wouldn’t be back in time to take him, and even if he could find a different ride, the theater was simply too far away. We’d planned to take him and his sisters to dinner that evening and we had no intention of spending an entire hour playing chauffeur for him because he was unwilling to see the movie in one of the many theaters within a stone’s throw of home.
We argued back and forth via text message and through actual phone calls until the flight attendant came to my rescue and ordered us passengers to turn off our electronic devices. In my last text to him, I told my son in no uncertain terms that if he was determined to watch the movie at his chosen theater, he needed to arrange for a ride home because we wouldn’t be doing it.
So what do you think happened when we landed? I discovered that he’d gone to the movie anyway. When I asked him how he was getting home he said, “My loving parents.” He actually said that to me! I’m glad the plane was already on the tarmac because all the steam coming out of my ears might have forced an emergency landing otherwise.
The long and the short of it is we didn’t go out to dinner, my husband picked up our troublesome son at the faraway movie theater, and that same son is now grounded for the entire month of July. All things being equal, I think I’d prefer the diaper bag and stroller again.
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