Thursday, June 5, 2008

Advanced Parenting

“I couldn’t believe that the hospital let us take a baby home and we don’t even have a manual. How could they be so irresponsible? In time the manual wrote itself. What they never told you is that your child will write the manual, adding a few words every day. As a father my job was to support the author, edit the work when I could and hope that the book would be a best seller”

Bill Farrell (excerpt from “Things I Learned About My Dad (In Therapy)”)

What happens when you feel like the author is getting the manual ALL WRONG?
Son #1 is 17 and wants a tattoo. He wants to quit playing football (in his Senior year), his grades dropped, he is asserting his physical independence from us in a BIG way…….

The tattoo? Meh…I don’t know how I feel. I think he’s too young to make such a PERMANENT decision, but I’m not offended by them, and other than I just don’t WANT him to, there’s not much of a reason he can’t get one.

The football? It’s breaking my heart. Why? I don’t know? Because he’s not the clean cut little athlete anymore? I think that’s it. Tattoos? Grades? No sports? Is he REALLY clean cut anymore? Are there issues? He says there aren’t. He says he does NOT drink and does NOT do any drugs. He’s even agreed to take a drug screening to prove it….

I’m a mess over this……I just don’t know where to turn or what to think. I do not suspect drug use or drinking……but he certainly wants to be with his friends ALL THE TIME….he wants to be away from US all the time…..he is a young MAN, and not my kid anymore. And it’s killing me.

Oh, and he announced to me recently that he’s a Republican. A REPUBLICAN. He can’t tell me why he runs with that crowd, but that’s who he currently identifies with. This distresses me MORE than the tattoo!! I wonder if Bill O’Reilly has a tattoo hidden somewhere on his conservative body?

He hasn’t really broken any of our rules….he has lied to me about some things. Like tanning…he confessed (finally after weeks of staring at the top of his really brown butt) that yes, he’s been tanning. But if he’s lying about tanning, what about drinking? What about drugs?

Please, I hope he’s lying about being Republican.

I’m stuck in parenting hell, internet. I am so grateful that I don’t have a kid on drugs (hopefully) or that got a girl pregnant (hopefully) or that is mentally ill (hopefully)…I know some parents deal with things so far out of the realm of rebellion that it is scary, but for me in my little world, this is crisis du jour!

What do I do? How do I convince him that a tattoo of a cross with angel wings is NOT a good idea? That when his skin sags at 80, he may regret his decision? How can I get him to see that playing football HIS SENIOR YEAR may turn out to be a great experience and memory for him, and that hanging out with his friends won’t be a life altering thing? He’ll find NEW friends and lose track of these over time. He just doesn’t GET IT……….I keep trying to remember when I was 17—I didn’t’ get it either. I know the angst he’s feeling….I totally understand, but I’m on ‘the other side’ now….the side you get when suddenly you realize that you have another person to shield from all the bad stuff in the world. It made me SICK to realize my parents weren’t stupid, they weren’t out of touch. They were trying to mold me into a decent, loving human being without allowing me to KILL MYSELF in the process.

I’m guessing we’ll be going for a tattoo this weekend. I’m guessing I’ll be broken hearted more than this instance in his young life. I’m guessing that eventually he’ll see that I’m not a lunatic idiot with no understanding or vision of what he’s dealing with. I’ll be waiting for the time that he has a 17 year old that wants tattooed or whatever the ‘rage’ is then……..I’ll probably put on a sympathetic face and try to help him work through the issue. Inside, I’ll be LAUGHING MY ASS OFF.

Oh, and the short excerpt from the Bill Farrell essay I showed above? That for me is one paragraph of truth and deep meaning. It’s going to be my MANTRA for the time being……how insightful and inspiring. Thanks, Bill…I can’t wait to read the rest of your essay. The excerpt, though I realize not complete, is spot on!

Oh, and our computer is on the fritz……something with the fan, so I’ll be more sporadic in posting and commenting. I haven’t forgotten about any of you or lost interest…… access is just limited for now.


Tony said...

Hi Shelly
Between freshman year and senior year my Daughter
Got contacts,Had her teeth whitened,Tan's like crazy,
smoked weed on 420 and was caught in a group, Got a tattoo the last day of school (She's 18)and now
it ends up its not others that make the car smell like smoke...It's her smoking!!
She is off to Mizzou this fall.
Basically H.S. is a Meat Grinder!?!

Good luck to all parents. Hopefully someday they will come back and say "You were right I should have listened"

Random Dad in Northern ILL.

My Life My Life My Life said...

I know we've talked about it but hey besides hog-tying, taping his lips shut and keeping him doped up, what are your other alternatives???? That said, I'll get the rope and you get the duct tape..
I think the whole 'he's not clean cut' is the thing that is bothering you but Shell, you son is a GREAT kid (almost GREAT!!! that Republican thing..wait didnt we just watch a movie on Diversity)GREAT kid. Maybe he's going through an identity crisis (lord knows i went through 12000 of them when i was 17) and he's trying to find his kniche. I dont think he's going to be a Hells Angel (but boy wouldnt he be so cute as one!) I think this is a phase and this too shall pass.

Keep the door open for communication no matter how much he shuts it...hell prop that bad boy open if you have too and let him know you will never EVER stop loving him just the way he is.

Kristen said...

oh. no.

I am so not looking forward to my precious little dear one turning in to a wicked teenager.