I wasn’t aware Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions were also relevant to a teen’s incoming hormones, but, after this weekend, I will always pay attention. It’s not just spring that’s coming early this year – it’s my child’s attitude. There will not be six more weeks of sweet, snuggly boy-ness at the Barlow house. Instead we will be moving straight into the frivolity and frustration of budding snark, sass and solitude. Lawd, send me wine.
Have I also mentioned that, since having surgery in November, I am back on an regular cycle of hot flashes? I got over them last year, yet, for some reason, having my wrist cleaned out signaled my hormones to be complete jackasses. This was for sure not where I was going with my blog this week, but this is my safe place. Of 33 readers.
Menopause: The gift of losing one fairly predictable week-ish period of misery and gaining a completely unpredictable, oh let’s go with every 27 minutes, 5-10 minute period of misery for
days and days months at a time.
Manopause: The gift of losing one fairly predictable darling, kind-ish boy and gaining a completely unpredictable, what-just-happened, extremely tall and slightly roll-my-eyes-frightening man-child.
Zack’s our easy one (we say…now laughing). And Zoe was super easy, other than her tendency to have giant hiccups, so that says just how easy Zack is. We are very lucky with both kids – we, of course, compare them to the teen scandals gracing the internet and pass a knowing it-could-be-worse smile between us. So, know that when I tell this story, I’m not saying we’ve got it rough.
We always have a bit of a struggle getting the kids organized for weekends at their bio-mother’s house. The three of them, as a whole, are not very communicative with each other and, often, the kids don’t realize it’s her weekend until we tell them. Which usually happens every other Wednesday-ish when one of us asks ‘what’s the plan for the weekend?’ Basically teeing up a ‘hey, you need to make contact and let us know when you’re heading over.’ Because they don’t have a lot of interaction with her, the kids have always held her weekends a bit sacred – never making plans with friends, trying not to work, etc. – though we’ve encourage them to let her do some of the driving, friend engagement, etc..
In the past few months, we’ve seen a shift in Zack’s preferences as he’s opted to hang with friends rather than heading over to her house immediately on Friday. So it’s started to be a weekend split between Friday night here/Saturday with friends/Saturday night and Sunday over there. No biggie – we’re actually thrilled that he knows he has a choice and shouldn’t feel guilty for it.
Full disclosure: We’ve always told the kids they have a choice. There is no court-driven custody agreement and we’ve said over and over they are welcome to see their mom as much or as little as they want. We did intervene a bit more when they were younger, trying to encourage the relationship – but at 14 and 17, feel that they are old enough to make that decision on their own (after we offer 72 paragraphs of advice).
Last weekend, Zack’s Saturday was to include leaving for a ski trip at the crack of dawn and returning sometime late – so the obvious choice was for him to stay with us Friday night and play Saturday evening by ear. Because I bought him new ski pants…the trip was cancelled (for the second time), but the ski-friends still wanted to ‘hang out’ Saturday. Great. After lunch, he left for a movie with said friends – specifically planned early so that he could come home after and have his mother come pick him up. Great. Rich and I did our Saturday errand-ing, got a text from Zack around 3:30 asking when we’d be home and when we returned he was already off to his mother’s.
Except that he wasn’t. For some reason (oh, right, is this mom’s intuition?), I hopped onto the Life360 app at 9:00pm and saw that Zack was actually still at his friends. Uh, what?!?! A series of texts started going back and forth ranging from lack of communication to leaving his mother hanging to us not knowing where he was to his mother having to stop what she was doing (after giving up on him hours earlier (no, I don’t know why she wasn’t communicating with him)) to go get him. Zack got an earful from his mother and a preview earful from Rich.
When the kids came back from their mother’s on Sunday, the earful really got going. Which is when we were met with the newest addition to the family – the cold, dead, maybe-I’m-listening-maybe-I’m-not, teenage boy stare. Can I tell you how annoying that is? To explain, in this case, the importance of knowing where our kids are, why communication is key (and why they have phones) and how he was kind of a a-hole to his mother only to receive a stare down? Until we got the first response of ‘I don’t need to tell you where I am because you have Life360. You can stalk me whenever you’d like.’ Oh okay. I’m just going to let you guess how the rest of that went but, I will tell you, his sister was basically building a Maypole in the backyard to dance around in celebration of not being the one in trouble.
Once we all moved on from that, we went Superbowling – something the kids weren’t that into, having not been home all weekend. We compromised and told them that yes, they did have to come visit with our friends – but they could come back home after the first quarter. Which they did. Rich and I also bailed a bit early – after the third quarter – so that he could come home to pack for his trip.
Which is when we were confronted with Zack digging his hole further.
One of our many electronics rules is no video games after 9:00pm. A little wind down time, right? When we arrived home at 9:30pm, we had Zoe going to bed and Zack presumably in the tub (don’t ask, I don’t know how he fits either).
Except he wasn’t. He was still in the basement playing video games, thinking we wouldn’t be home until after the Super Bowl. I did not follow Rich downstairs to hear the outcome, but am guessing it had something to do with trust and character and how those things really only count when no one is looking. Zack did pass me on his way from the basement to his bedroom, again, a bit of a dead stare. I didn’t reiterate what Rich likely said, but I did suggest to him that he put away his shovel.
We have smart kids. Very smart. And I know they do have common sense in there somewhere. We we have labeled Zack as Johnny Cochran for years now – he lawyers up so fast when he is in trouble that we practically have to write down any and all words expressed to him as proof that we said it in his presence. He has also lived with his sister for 14 years now – following the same rules ~ which is why we are so amused (and occasionally question our sanity) that Zack’s go to response is now ‘oh, I didn’t know that was for me too.’ As in, ‘Yes, I know Zoe tells you where she is at different checkpoints during the day – but I didn’t know I was supposed to do that,’ or ‘I knew Zoe couldn’t have electronics in her room, but I didn’t think that was for me,’ or ‘I know Zoe turns in her phone at night, but I thought I could keep mine.’
At some point he should figure this out right? That he doesn’t have special rules? And that lack of common sense isn’t a valid excuse? Please?
One of the problems with the collision of meno and mano-pause is that each time the sweet child starts digging his hole again, my retiring hormones decide to launch a hot flash, as if my body thinks it’s helping to launch a parenting missile. So, while I’m trying to look and sound serious and firm and believable – I’m quickly turning into a damp sponge while some sort of lava begins scorching me from my insides out. I’m shoving my sleeves up, taking my socks off, searching for a fan, putting ice cubes in my bra and, finally, laying on the kitchen floor next to the open freezer while saying things like ‘Zackary Glenn, you will listen to your parents!’
I’m sure it’s all very convincing.
I am happy to report that today was mostly better. Praying the kid has put his shovel away for a bit.