My 12-year-old son has become a porcupine. From one day to the next he has turned into an unpredictable bundle of prickly and cuddly, hot and cold, sweet and sour, clear and cloudy, day and night. He is my only child and his churning hormones must be causing one heck of a storm inside his changing body. This, in turn, has created one heck of an anxiety-ridden mom.
Some of my biggest anxieties come from not tying things up in a pretty little bow in the end. I can handle hard times but I require a happy ending. I like my dramas to be Walt Disney-style. The hard stuff comes at the beginning and the end makes you feel full of light and hope and brings forth victory. Please let my kid’s tween years be like a Disney movie. Except not like Bambi, please!
One minute my son is jumping around and happily wrestling with the dog, and my heart is happy to recognize the witty little boy I have always known. An hour later I find him in the basement with a scowl on his face. Oh! And that word that you know means so much but provides not one clue about what’s going on when you ask, “what’s wrong?” Answer: “Nothing.”
It’s the universal adolescent response. The dictionary definition of the Word “nothing” goes like this: Not anything. No single thing. Having no prospect of progress; of no value. And that is exactly how I feel when I hear him say it. It’s the universal anguish of a mom. It’s our kids saying “Mom you can’t fix this. You will fail. Your input has no value.”
I was such a winner when he was younger. I was “Super Mom” I fixed it all and he let me. Now, I am a bystander walking around trying to put my arms around a prickly little beast. His issues go beyond a skinned knee I can easily bandage.
I want to fix what ails my son. This is a selfish need on my part because as the saying goes, “you’re only as happy as your least happy child.” I want to be happy! I want my kid to be happy!
One day my son comes down to breakfast not talking. Angry it seemed. I worried because he had been having some social issues at school and wanted to make sure he was okay, but I didn’t want to push in fear that I might increase anxieties. The car ride to school was quiet. He was looking out the window lost in his thoughts and I was busy in my head thinking of something to say to fix his mood. I failed in silence and he jumped out of the car without a word. Throughout the day I worried that things had gotten worse at school. I wanted to sneak into the lunchroom and monitor from behind a door to see for myself. I didn’t.
I finally pick him up from school. As he jumps in the car he’s smiling. I say, “You and I need to have a more open line of communication. What was going on this morning?” He replies, “Mom I am on the verge of 13! My hormones are going crazy! That’s what was going on.”
This makes me want to be more like my parents were. They didn’t allow me to mope around. If they did see me moping, they’d give me something to do – usually chores – and who wanted that? My sisters and I had to be front page news before my parents stepped in. The headline had to read something like this, “Child is Bleeding” or “Teen Crashes Car” or “Kid Not Home From School Yet.” The rest was put on the “B” section and only glanced over. They knew that when I said “nada” was wrong when they asked, it really meant nothing, in the long run.