So we are toes deep into navigating teendom here in Chaos Manner. It’s been a manageable shit show up until now. Lately, I cant help but feel things are starting to tip off the rails a tad.
We live in a suburban cookie cutter ‘village’ and along with the community and sense of neighborliness, we also have a glorified high school-esque social scene. There are the Jocks, the MOMS, the empty nesters and the regular normal dysfunctional folk, like my family. We tend to get along with other normally dysfunctional types. I was a stay at home mom forever, and I am now back to being a working mom. I’ve seen both sides of the trench and have gotten pretty good at identifying personalities.
I am married to a very ambitious, non-jock social butterfly whom I am quite comfortable hiding behind at Peopley functions.
This weekend we went to a neighborhood Halloween Party. It was hosted by someone we have never really met and had no idea what to expect. It was advertised as family friendly and costumes were mandatory. .. you know, to make it even more challenging to ID someone in a line up should you find out who ratted you and your weeds out to the HOA.
My anxious, anti-social 13 year old son was hiding behind me in his onesie costume and the Social pair- hubby & our 9 yr old daughter- were immediately looking for folks to chat with. The 4 of us examined all of the corners of the house together intently as we tried to read the crowd. My son had just commented how he hated feeling awkward when a teenage girl appeared out of nowhere and invited him upstairs where the others of their kind were gathering.
My husband and I exchanged Parent faces as we watched our shy, awkward, voice-cracking boy walk bravely alone into a treacherous situation: Teen girls.
We’ve almost all been there. New neighborhood, new voice, puberty, parents hovering, what could go wrong?!
So with one kid off to a brave new world, our daughter- always quick to make a friend- was next to run off to find mayhem. My husband and I mingled and chatted with neighbors and had a good time.
I found some folks new to the ‘hood to chat with and also hung out a bit with the hostess. It was quite entertaining watching my husband chat with the slim, stilettoed, bodiced woman and trying so hard to focus on her eyes I was sure a stroke was imminent.
After nearly 2 hours of grown up socializing, I decided to go check on my son who had never made it back downstairs. I was told there were a couple of other boys upstairs and he was certainly not the lone dude.
Until now the kids were all out and about upstairs laughing and having fun.
But now, all the doors were closed and there was nary a hormone in sight.
I heard laughing and knocked on a bedroom door.
I knocked again.
… footsteps….and talking commenced…without a response to my knock.
I opened the bedroom door and a sea of adolescent faces stared at me in surprise. I recognize my son amid the roughly 6 girls and 2 other boys. The kids all looked guilty with a healthy dose of defiance except for one. My son looked at me like a panicked drowning kitten. I let him know we were leaving in 5 minutes. He replied with a relieved “Ok!” and when I turned to leave, leaving the door open, it was immediately and unapologetically slammed shut behind me.
I walked downstairs, told my husband I was taking our daughter home and he was responsible for saving our son from drowning asap.
The hostess was quite lovely and kind for inviting us. We said our goodbyes after my daughter’s friends thanked the hostess and took their leave. It did not go unnoticed that their dad, away from his wife for only these five minutes of the evening, nearly dove into the bodice of the hostess as she gave the kids hugs goodbye. I was certain his Joker makeup had left a perfect mirrored impression on her chest. .. surprisingly it somehow did not.
After putting my daughter to bed I got the lowdown on the upstairs antics of the night, but it was not easy. Having a conversation with my son where information is gathered and shared was unreasonably excruciating. It’s like no one has taught him communication skills! Has my shouting “Shoes, shoes! SHOES!!” every morning for the last 10 years not qualified as communication modeling?
I would have had an easier time asking a toddler for geometry lessons.
But we eventually got it done. I wont out him on all the details, but it’s safe to say he handled himself very well, he did not fall to peer pressure. There wasnt a coke den with hookers going on or anything, but suffice it to say they were all private religious school teens trying their best to help him feel comfortable and welcome.
Having done my time in Catholic school myself, I will say there will be no follow up closed door sessions in the future, but it’s a relief to know that so far we seem to have created a pretty impressive human being….conversational abilities aside, of course.
Parenting never seems to hit a stride. I always-stupidly-thought keeping a newborn alive was difficult. Then they become toddlers and actually try to kill themselves on a regular basis. School seemed the perfect answer…ha! It only got more complicated to be a parent! Teachers, homework, science, math.
Then they start becoming actual small humans. You see your own best and worst behavior come flying out of their mouth at you. Bad friends, awkward conflicts with other parents, summer camp, playdates, sleepovers.
It never gets easier. Dont let them tell you any different.
Now I have my son’s impending adulthood looming and I’m always in a panic of encouraging his independence while still savoring the little bits of my baby boy that are left. Only so many tuck ins and goodnight kisses. A rapid decline in the number of mandatory holidays left. Video game allotment, internet management.
The list just gets bigger, not smaller.