The Thanksgiving season is usually not considered the time of miracles and yet something miraculous happened yesterday. Not the miracle of weeping icons or spontaneous healing, mind you, but miraculous just the same.
Let me back up.
My 18-year-old, college freshman came home for Thanksgiving break last night and within 45 minutes our battle for control began.
And, no, the miracle is not that it didn’t happen sooner.
After several hugs for the dog, a couple quick hugs for me, and a discussion about laundry he disappeared into his room.
I was a little disappointed by his vanishing act but I figured a home cooked meal would lure him out. I was wrong. I spent 10 minutes trying to get him to join the family for dinner.
I was miffed. Shouldn’t he be thrilled to have real food?
When he finally came to the table, he brought his iPad with him. I told him to put it away during dinner and he responded with the, “I can do whatever I want because I’ve been away at school and I do whatever I want there,” bullshit that every college kid says to his parents when he comes home for break.
I was even more miffed.
And, when I told him that I didn’t appreciate his attitude, he responded with “Whatever,” and a roll of his eyes.
That’s when I snapped.
I yelled, my 14-year-old left the table, and my husband sat in silence.
At that moment, I just wanted my oldest son to go back to school.
I thought I had prepared for this. I read all the articles and blog posts about how to deal with your kid when he returns home for school breaks – hell, I wrote an article – but it didn’t matter.
I didn’t want to spend a little bit of time with him. I wanted more.
I wanted him to want to spend time with us – well, me in particular. I wanted him to choose us over his friends and his electronics. I wanted him to say, “Let’s watch a movie together,” “Let’s play a board game,” or “Let’s go out for dinner – just the four of us!” All the books and articles told me those were unreasonable and unrealistic expectations, but I still wanted it!
Those parents of college students who say, “That’s how the visit home is supposed to be. I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s healthy!” are full of it. Deep down, they are just as pissed as I am; they just want to act like they are superior parents who have this whole parenting gig down. Me? I don’t care what it looks like. I suck as a parent, remember?
I know I sound like an infant but watching my kid transition from child to independent adult (albeit one who still needs to borrow our car and doesn’t pay for insurance) is not easy. It’s really uncomfortable to have a child who one day can’t leave you alone and the next day doesn’t want anything to do with you. None of this is new; I’ve been dealing with this since my oldest became a teen but it’s always shocking to me and it makes me kind of sad…or mad depending on the day.
Yesterday, apparently, was a mad day.
But then, just as I was on the verge of destroying any chance of quality family time for the entire week, a holiday miracle occurred: the WiFi AND the television went out.
The iPad my son brought to the table? Useless.
The video games he wanted to play on the Xbox? Unavailable.
The TV shows he wanted to binge watch? Inaccessible.
Was this just a coincidence or did my shortening fuse cause our electronics to go out? Did I suddenly have some sort of power? After all, I have been called a witch before (although it probably wasn’t a literal reference).
It didn’t matter. Just like that, I had my kid’s undivided attention.
“Let’s play a board game,” he said.
A Thanksgiving miracle and, yes, I am grateful.
Wishing you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving!
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