In terms of my relationship with my adolescent, this past year can be summed up with a series of pictures and graphs:
The rough road we’ve traveled this year with our son has lined my face with new wrinkles and has added gray hairs to my head.
For a long time, there was no easy way to get through to the other side.
And then, one fine day:
They are now more like this:
Nowadays, when I open my mouth to say something, I can reasonably expect NOT to have my words immediately torched to cinders as if by a giant flamethrower.
Lately, I can generally get through the day without being reduced to a quivering mess of raw, exposed nerves because of some act of poor judgment or lack of impulse control on my son’s part.
It is so sweet.
It’s time to celebrate this time of intellectual and emotional growth that has come hand-in-hand with my son’s physical growth. It’s time to rejoice in the relative peace and harmony that has descended upon our household.
It’s time…for payback!
I am now going to reveal a delightful secret to those of you who may have children on the cusp of adolescence…Right now, your young adult is at the most sensitive, vulnerable time of his or her life. They are yearning for approval and acceptance by their peers. It doesn’t take much at all to embarrass them. Think of this embarrassment as the very wellspring of your own illimitable powers. Yes! Be glad! Breathe deep the heady aroma of your own might, (while at the same time willing yourself to ignore the stench of the sweaty socks strewn about your minivan and home). These days, even as my son grows taller than me by the minute, my power over him grows at an even more astonishing rate. I have in my clutches the ultimate weapon – the power to embarrass, and the shamelessness to deploy this cruel, cruel weapon.
This past weekend one of Nicholas’ friends came over for a sleepover in the middle of the night when his parents had to make an unexpected trip to the ER. I got out of bed to help Nicholas blow up the air mattress while Colin went to pick up the friend to bring him back to our house. Nicholas kept insisting that he could handle it himself, and kept urging me to go back to my room. He was getting more and more agitated about my presence and I simply couldn’t comprehend why until at last he said, “He’s going to be here soon. Don’t you think you should put some pants on, or something?”
I looked down at the ratty, oversized tee-shirt I was wearing as pajamas, and because I am an evil, evil human being, who suffered the tongues of flame in the deepest bowels of adolescent hell this year, I replied nonchalantly, “Nah. He’s just like family. He won’t mind at all.”
Oh, how I relished every second of my son’s squirming until I finally took pity on him and went to change. When I considered all the many battles we fought over his wardrobe over the course of this past year, I couldn’t help but think that I’d let him off too easily.
Later in the weekend he told me that he was going to DJ for the upcoming school dance. The perfect opportunity, once again presented to me on a gleaming silver platter! How could I possibly resist?
“So, I’m sure they’ll want parents to chaperone, right? Because I’d love to be there for your gig.”
An eerie silence immediately filled the car. The words “shock and awe” sprang unbidden to my mind.
“Mom. I love you so much, but...”
I cut him off with my wild, demonic cackling.
My God! Life really IS good!