Posts Tagged ‘let boys be boys’

10 Signs That You Are An Overprotective Parent (according to my 14-year-old)

My younger son and I had a little spat the other day because I would not let him have a sleepover.

My reason?

He has been sick since mid-December with a stomach virus, the flu, strep throat and most recently, a sinus infection that put him on a second 10-day course of antibiotics that he finished just three days before the requested sleep over. I made the crazy (to him) statement that I wanted him to get some rest so he could recover from this string of illnesses.

His response? “You are so overprotective! People get sick. Who cares?!”

He’s right, people do get sick but sleeping does help them recover. (Besides, I HATE sleepovers but that wasn’t part of my argument at the time).

He’s also correct that I am overprotective…ish. In my defense, I pointed out that I was willing to let him go to Italy this summer as part of his Latin class. “That seems sort of reckless if you think about it,” I told him.

He scoffed. “The only reason you agreed to let me go is because you knew that my classmates’ parents would say no,” he told me. “You knew I wouldn’t want to go without my friends.”

We will never know because, of course, as I knew, his classmates’ parents said no.

See, where my oldest is a little more cautious my youngest leaps before he looks. So, I have to say things like, “Can you not run down the ice-covered sidewalk? It’s a little slippery after the ice storm.”

Does that mean I’m overprotective or is it my job to warn my accident-prone son of the dangers that he would never notice until it was too late and we were in the ER…again.

Mind you, this is the kid who, among other things ran into a pole (those big cement things that don’t move) when he was younger and required multiple stitches, hurt his tailbone by taking a jump with a sled on a pile of icy rocks, and slammed his knee into a metal pipe trying to jump over a series of metal pipes.

I know, I know. Boys will be boys, but does that mean I’m overly cautious when I suggest that maybe he NOT ski straight down a mountain.

Well, according to my 14-year-old I am.

Here are 10 more examples of things that I’ve said that my youngest found unreasonable, restrictive and just plain no fun. I call them parenting decisions; he calls them torture:

  1. I told him he couldn’t have a motorized mini-bike when he was 10-years-old because he would drive it on the street and it can fit under a car and, well, he was 10 (have you seen what can happen with those things??);

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  1. I made him wear a bike helmet;
  2. I had to be allowed to “friend.” “like,” and “follow” him on all of his social media accounts (and, yes, I know that he might have other accounts I don’t know about but his brother does…);
  3. I say crazy things like, “Be careful!” and “Don’t do anything stupid,” when he is engaging in any activity that could result in bodily injury and/or death like skiing, climbing a tree, or being a boy;
  4. I talk to him about the dangers of drug addiction, alcohol abuse and unprotected sex – often – and usually over his very loud objections about discussing this topic with his mom;
  5. I told him – all 5′ 5″ and 115 pounds of him – that he could not tryout to be the kicker for the high school football team (did I mention that he is only 115 pounds?!);
  6. I don’t let him drink coffee before bed (yes, he’s asked);
  7. I make him eat things like fish and vegetables because they are good for him;
  8. I make him set his social media accounts to private so strangers can’t access them and I tell him not to share his passwords with anyone even when he insists that no one he knows would do anything stupid like log on to his accounts and post inappropriate things;

And the most ridiculous thing that I make him do?

  1. I make him tell me where he is going and (gasp!) who he is going to be with!

I don’t know how he stands it.

 

What do you think? Am I overprotective? Are you?

 

 

 

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How Much Do You Really Know Your Kids?

 

“Did anyone really know their child? Your child was a little stranger, constantly changing, disappearing and reintroducing himself to you…”

-Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies

I’ve decided that I don’t know my kids very well. I keep thinking that I know how they will respond to things but, lately, I’m always wrong—especially with my youngest. It’s not like he’s trying to be difficult (that’s a whole different story). But if I say black he says white – even if he was nowhere near me when I said black.

I started thinking about this last week when I attended the advisory parent night at my younger son’s high school. When we first walked in we were handed a sheet to fill out about our son – questions like “What’s the best thing about your kid?” and “What is your kid most looking forward to in high school?” Questions, that as a parent who has had hands-on experience, 24/7, with this kid I should be able to answer easily.

But I was stymied.

What is he looking forward to? What is he struggling with? Why can’t I answer any of these questions??!!

The one about the best qualities about my kid should have been easy…or so I thought. I started to realize as I wrote down my pat answers: sense of humor, love of learning, blah, blah, blah, that those answers were, perhaps, not true of the kid he has become. Sure, he loves to laugh and I think his sarcasm is the funniest thing ever but was I really answering the question about him as a 14-year-old?

Well, since the first question – the easy question – was such a bust I moved on to the next question that asked what my kid gets excited about?

Hmmm…nothing? He’s a teenager! 

Moving on…

What academic class does your child enjoy most?

No idea. He won’t talk to me about school, but he doesn’t grumble as much when he’s doing his Latin homework so I guess the answer is Latin!

I wouldn’t be so focused on this if I weren’t constantly reminded lately that I don’t have a clue about him.

For instance, I was certain that he would have a melt down when his brother left for college. I was so worried that my sobbing on the way home would be really hard on him because he would be dealing with his own emotions.

Boy, was I wrong.

As we toured the campus and attended family activities, he kept checking the time and asking when we could leave! “I have school tomorrow,” he kept reminding us.

That was not at all what I expected.

And there have been other moments – like when he had a very strong emotional response to a soccer gaffe or when he decided he should be a Buddhist which is in sharp contrast to his desire to be an Atheist. Then just last week, I was POSITIVE that our youngest doesn’t eat avocado and yet, he assured me when I got home with his sandwich—sans avocado—that he LOVES avocado and how could I not know that?

Huh?

Shouldn’t I have noticed this change? Shouldn’t we have talked about it?

Sure, his older brother had moments that threw me for a loop – like the time when he started talking to girlsactually talking to girls – I mean, using words in long sentences and not just grunting at them – but, for the most part, nothing he has done has been a great surprise. That’s because he likes to talk.

When he stopped eating mustard there was a discussion about it. We talked about what it was about mustard that he didn’t like. We talked about other types of mustard and whether he would like to try those. Clearly, it was a long discussion because I can remember the moment vividly.

Our youngest, on the other hand, doesn’t mull things over out loud. He just changes his mind and forgets to tell us.

He also has a very extensive inner life that none of us are privy to. When he was five or six-years-old he started having these moments when he would stare off into space, often with a smile pulling on the corner of his lips. We knew that he was, as he called it, “telling himself a special story.” He was the toddler version of Walter Mitty—with long, complicated daydreams that involved him saving the day or traveling the globe.

(He probably learned to love avocado during one of those daydreams. But, I digress…)

So, why am I so worried about what my kid wants on his sandwich?

Because I want to know my kids. I don’t want to be that parent who says, “My kid would never do that!” only to find out that my kid has most definitely done that…and more.

So, I ask them questions and talk to them during car rides and dinners and talk to their friends when they are in our house – all in an effort to get a glimpse of who they are.

But, I’m not naïve. I know there is plenty that my 18-year-old doesn’t share with me and I actually like that my youngest is very much his own person who tries to figure things out on his own.

I know that I will never fully KNOW my kids and I’m good with that. I want them to separate from us – they need to separate from us. But, I think that I want my 14-year-old to be who he was when he was younger because if I acknowledge that he is changing I also have to acknowledge that he will, one day, grow up and need to leave and I will know him even less.

But until that time I will keep peppering him with questions—whether he likes it or not—and I will assume I know nothing instead of assuming that I know anything because tomorrow he will probably be vegan…or a Buddhist.

 

 

 

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Celebrate

I am one half of an inter-faith couple—the lapsed Greek-Orthodox Christian half, while my husband makes up the Jewish half. What does that mean?

It means that December is a very long month.

We celebrate all of our respective holidays, so this year, in addition to hearing Christmas music on the radio that began around Halloween and negotiating packed shopping malls long before Thanksgiving, we also have eight days of Hanukkah to celebrate—in November. I’m going to be burnt out by Christmas; that’s too long for me to stay festive.

But I’m trying.

To begin, I will start with sharing a smattering of things that I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

I would like to say that the things I am grateful for are all appropriately Thanksgiving-esque, but they’re not. Not that I’m not grateful for my health and my family and electricity and health insurance because I really, really am. I am the person who walks around waiting for the other shoe to drop because I can’t believe how much good stuff I have in my life and I’m thankful for all of it. But, I’m also really grateful for the inane stuff—like wine and popcorn for dinner when no one else is home.

It really is about the little things…

  1. I am thankful that my husband sucks at this parenting gig as much as I do because I know that I’m not alone.
  2. (This should really be 1a but…) I am thankful that my husband knows that he sucks at being a parent and doesn’t look at me with disdain when I do something stupid.
  3. I am grateful (and a little amazed) that my sons’ friends don’t mind hanging out at our house and chatting with me especially when I am wearing the same sweatshirt that I’ve worn for four straight days—and they’ve noticed.
  4. I am secretly grateful for the Xbox or PlayStation on days when I want to take a catnap on the couch and I know my boys will be glued to the screen in the basement for a good hour…or three.
  5. I am thankful that I have a 5-year-old dog, not a puppy, and that my kids are in their teens. I mean, I love puppies – who doesn’t – but I don’t like training puppies and I hate waking up at 3 am to let them out. Sort of like waking up with babies. I have truly loved every stage of my kids’ growth (even the terrible-twos, threes and fours) but it’s kind of awesome to have kids who can carry their own luggage through the airport, talk to me about something they read in the newspaper, and watch movies with me that aren’t animated.
  6. I am grateful that my 13-year-old finally started showering every day. Now if he would just pick up his towel from the floor…
  7. I am grateful for Netflix and Hulu streaming. How else would I be able to spend hours on the couch bonding with my boys over Psych and 24 reruns?
  8. I am so thankful that I have friends who lack a filter (one friend told me that hers “fell out somewhere” in her thirties). Who else would give me the straight dope?
  9. I am thankful that my kids are old enough to understand discretion and have yet to spill any of our family secrets.
  10. I am grateful that my kids don’t always snap at me when I try to talk to them and that, occasionally, they even laugh with me—not at me.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Gobble Tov!

What Were They Thinking?

As my youngest son and I were driving to the doctor’s office in our local hospital we began reminiscing about the time that I was racing to catch up to the ambulance carrying him to the same hospital after he hit his forehead at a local swimming pool (see #1 below). This got me thinking about some of the other, perhaps not as urgent, moments in my two boys’ young lives that resulted in injuries. I laughed a little as I looked back at these moments because these particular injuries were really just so ridiculous. I can’t imagine any girls being injured in the same ways (Maybe I’m wrong. Please tell me if I am).

Of course, I blamed myself for every one of these injuries (“If only I had been there when he decided to sled down an icy stairway!” “If only I had taught them that metal chairs hurt when you land on them from a high vertical jump!”) But, I realized after reviewing this list, that all of the lessons that they’ve learned and all the nagging that I’ve done wouldn’t have prevented any of these injuries because boys do mind-boggling things. I was simply “letting” my boys be boys.

So, here is my top ten list of stupid things that my kids have done and the resultant injury. And, just so you know, I was only present for two of them—#2 and #3—and I couldn’t have stopped either one of them if I tried:

#1 – Running into a pole in the middle of the kiddie pool. (result: 5 stitches. Also, the club has now banned anyone over the age of 5 from the kiddie pool);

#2 – Running in the house while looking behind him and turning just in time to meet the corner of the door jamb (broken nose);

#3 – Jumping up for no apparent reason and landing chin first on the back of a metal kitchen chair (3 stitches);

#4 – Sledding down the neighbor’s ice-covered front stairs. The sled continued on but his head stayed behind and hit the concrete stairs (CT scan, no concussion);

#5 – Playing soccer in the street—barefoot—and kicking at a ball that was right along the curb (broken toe, lost toe nail);

#6 – Playing soccer in the 3 1/2 foot wide upstairs hallway—barefoot—and kicking at the door jamb instead of the ball (broken toe);

#7 – Getting shot point-blank in the ear with a high-powered water gun during a water gun fight (punctured eardrum);

#8 – Lying across the top of a large ride-on truck and pushing himself straight into the dog’s elevated metal water bowl (broken nose);

#9 – Getting shot in the neck while playing paint ball without a neck guard  (a lot of bleeding and a big scar, physically and probably emotionally as well);

And, my personal favorite:

#10 – Shooting himself in the leg with an air-soft gun to prove that air-soft guns don’t hurt (they really do and, they leave a mark).

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