So, #3 and I had a “come to Jesus” meeting, after a Dwamatic Conversation involving the ruts in my yard and pinecones.. I let him air his greivances, and I aired a few of my own. He agreed to be more obedient and I agreed to treat him with more respect, less like a little kid and more like the adult he’s learning to be.
I admit to having a caustic tongue. Sarcasm slips out of my mouth without even thinking. He does not respond well to that sort of treatment, and reacts by treating me with contempt, which leads to more sarcasm, and the wheel goes round and round and the wheel goes round and round.
I think the lack of respect is endemic in our household. #2 is stellar at being condescending, especially to me and to #3. #3 salves his ego by being more mechanically inclined, and by wearing his pride like a suit of armor. I am so used to being held in contempt that I also wear a suit of armor, one made of thick scales of sarcasm. I don’t know if the lack of respect is something of “familiarity breeds contempt”, or a gender-based thing. Sweet Daddio doesn’t treat me like that, so I know the boys didn’t learn it from him. SD is so used to being The Man of the House that anything besides unquestioned authority isn’t to be considered. I am so used to going along with him, even when I disagree, that I do, because it’s easier than trying to explain what I’m thinking.
Maybe it’s internal, something I set myself up for because I am lacking in self-respect to some degree. Sometimes I wonder if my lack of education and career contribute to their opinion of me, the “little woman”, some kind of drone here to make the household run smoothly and see to it they all have clean shorts and a supper on the table.
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Each one of my kids has his own distinct personality, and his own way of causing us problems. #1 misbehaved because he would do exactly what we’d forbid, just to piss us off. #2 is well behaved, but arrogant to a fault. #3 misbehaves because what he does is so much fun he loses his head and “Mom, I just can’t help myself”. #4 is still young enough that is it more desirable to please us than it is to willfully disobey.
#3 is the issue today. Yesterday, he came in from a friend’s and (somewhat cagily) said he was going to work. This was suspicious because he almost never works on a Monday. “Ok,” I said, “have a good evening.” Then I called SD. “Drive by the Dairy Queen and see if #3′s truck is there.” It wasn’t. Turns out #3 was at a friend’s, not the one he’d spent the weekend with, but the one who’d dropped out of school and gotten into trouble with the law, the one who’s “supervisory” parent wasn’t very supervisory. We’d told him time and again that his friend could come here, but he was not to go there.
And that tight feeling behind my eyes, the one that became so familiar over the 3 years of dealing with #1 and his shenanigans, that feeling returned. I got MAD. I’m still mad, even after a comfortably medicated nights sleep and a cup of good coffee.
Unlike #1, who got defensive and hostile when confronted with his misbehavior, #3 was all “Yes, ma’am, no sir, I’m sorry” saying all the right things and even conjuring up a tear or two.
Oh, and apparently he was nervous enough when he got home that he forgot to put his truck in gear, and it rolled into the (very wet from 3 inches of rain) front yard, where in sank into the bog and now I have to get it out, undoubtedly leaving ruts and a mess. Thanks, buddy, ‘prishate that.
Well, I don’t know how exactly this will be handled. I do know this: he has no car keys, no driver’s license, no cell phone, and no job. He will have to do enough work around the house and yard to pay for his car insurance (including filling in a set of ruts). This condition will remain so until school is out. He is grounded as well, no friends, no fun, no nothing, until my disposition improves and I return to feeling benevolent. And heaven help him if he gives me an attitude about it.
The glimmer of hope in all this is that our experience with #1 gives us a bit of perspective on how to handle #3. They are very different people, with different motives and all, but the patterns of behavior are similar. With #1 we tended to bury our heads in the sand, to tell ourselves that he wasn’t a bad kid, doing bad things, he was just…oh, I don’t know…a night owl, who prefered his fun after 10 pm. We are trying not to to bury our heads with this one, even if it means having a surly teenager in the house. I have 27 years experience on him, and will show him surly if he tries to give me an attitude.
The truth is, I love him dearly, and want to make sure he’s heading down a path that will lead him to a productive and healthy adulthood. Sure, he will experiment, and have friends I’m not so sure of. That’s expected, but I am not going to tolerate sneaking around, lying to me about where he is and what he is doing, and the like. Not as long as he is in my jurisdiction. If he doesn’t like it, he is free (like #1) to move out as soon as he’s 18, and try to make it on his own. But as long as he lives in this household, he will live by our rules.
Is it too early for vodka? What if I put it in grapefruit juice? I really don’t feel like going through this second verse of the song.