Summertime breeds humidity and humility

I am a horrible slacker, a terrible parent and a poor excuse for a human being. How do I know? Because my teenaged son tells me so. Usually following me setting limits regarding what I won’t allow him to do, or conversely, when I am attempting to get him to do something around the house that he doesn’t want to do. In other words, all the time.
Under normal circumstances, this would be annoying but laughable under the heading “that darned, self-righteous teenager behavior,” but our family has not bumped into normal in so long we wouldn’t recognize it if we met up with it on the street. And in view of the large-scale devastation our family has experienced this year, Connor’s “you’re a terrible parent” routine is downright demoralizing.
Connor is pretty smart and undeniably clever. However, like most 14-year-olds, he lacks wisdom. Knowing answers alone doesn’t provide big picture understanding of the context into which they fit. The result is excessive, self-centered armchair quarterbacking from someone with no investment in our family franchise. Dealing with his lopsided shallowness takes more energy than I can muster, given all the other variables with which I am having to deal surrounding unemployment and the fallout of his sister’s recent critical illness. Being in survival mode overdrive has greatly reduced my tolerance for adolescent posturing.
Absent a fair-minded, community-oriented male role model in his life, my son is quick to proclaim my thinking is flawed. He’s annoyed that despite our circumstances, I still try to be of benefit to others (except him, of course) with how I spend my time. He chastises me for my other-helpful actions, from giving someone a ride or donating blood, to volunteering to help people or causes, to awarding scholarships to other people’s children. According to him, it’s all a waste of time and something I do just to make myself look good. Gratitude and community-building can’t possibly be anyone’s motivators, least of all mine.
When told I would not transport him to athletic team weight-lifting until he put away the combat boots he’d left for three days in the kitchen, removed the shorts he’d thrown onto the dining room table, and retrieved a pair of (dirty?) underwear he’d tossed into another corner, he began ranting I was blackmailing him.
“You never do any work, yourself,” he admonished.
What about the ongoing job-searching, mending, meal planning, shopping, cooking, appointment-coordinating, transporting, lawn-mowing, cleaning, bill-paying and errand running? In addition to holding down at least two part-time jobs at all times. Nope. They don’t count. “You are a terrible mom.”
Fortunately, I have positive role models in my life who help me weather his hooey. One of them is a friend with two children, one of them a younger, special needs child and the other a couple years older than Connor. Let’s call her “St. Mom.” She has coped with far more issues and she’s still standing. Some days, that’s the best a person can do.
At any rate, it did my heart good when, while watching the Memorial Day Parade with me, St. Mom asked, “Have you ever been driving down the road with your ungrateful, clueless, potty-mouthed teenaged son next to you in the front seat of the car and mentally picked out a tree or light pole you’d like to run into with the passenger side only of your vehicle just to get him to shut up?”
I cracked up. I completely got where she was coming from and respected the fact she wasn’t afraid to have and share those baser thoughts. Yes, I have had those fantasies. In fact, I had one on the way home last night from my son’s baseball double-header. I had not been able to get there until it was ending, as I had to play piano somewhere late afternoon and then continue on to a speaking engagement in another county, both paying gigs.
Interestingly, he who had been berating me as worthless for not having a job instantly switched to criticizing me for my jobs interfering with watching his ball games. Talk about winless season! Here’s hoping I survive not just the humidity, but this summer’s humility.

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