Strugglemom: The Elusive Parenting Handbook
I feel like I am failing!
As a teacher and mentor I have always said being a teacher is something you cannot fake. You either can or cannot, you can't fake it to make it. Parenting on the other hand is a different story.
When we decide to start a family we are overjoyed with excitement and wonder. Most of us don't think about what's to come...
When my husband and I had our son, he drove home white knuckled the entire way. The look of sheer panic and fear was palpable on his face. He turned and looked at me and said, "I have no idea what I am doing". I told him the same as we continued our drive home. I figured there were only two important rules: Don't lose them and don't kill them. To this day, this remains my mantra.
We had it pretty good for the first 12 years, however we weren't sure he'd see 13! Puberty was rocking our house and we didn't even recognize him anymore, so we trudged through.
2020 brought us a pandemic and quarantine. It wasn't until we were a year and a half in, did we begin to comprehend how this affected our kid as well as ourselves. It's been tough for all of us and we are still not through it. We made excuses and justified behaviors, I am not sure I would have normally accepted. I was afraid of the fragility of my son, both mentally and emotionally. Who knows what will be the long term affects?
I am not sure how others faired, but we are still on the struggle bus: puberty, school, friends, grades, and social media. Our son is a good human. He's kind and thoughtful and incredibly polite. He has responsibilities and expectations, as all children should. He goes to school, guitar lessons, has a job two nights a week, and has a small group of friends.
My son just turned 14 and we are now in a whole new stratosphere! His grades have been lousy the last two terms. He attends a school that encourages parents to allow their children to learn responsibility and take accountability for themselves. We did that. We did not hover or police his schoolwork. We allow him to do a lot of things other kids his age cannot. We want to teach him to be independent. When we got his last report card we were at a loss! How do you teach your child accountability and responsibility when there is very little to consequence? The first part of the pandemic we used the excuse his phone was his only link to his friends and the outside world, now it's our biggest problem.
As he was getting older we swore we would wait until he was 15 until we got him a phone, we didn't. We thought it would be convenient for him to have one so he could communicate with us and it would keep him safe. What an oxymoron. Was it us just being lazy? A series of unfortunate events has led us to take his phone and lock it down. You can use your imagination to why this happened, I don't think I need to spell it out. What I can say is that I am shocked! When I started teaching 25 years ago, I used to say to my friends, "blow jobs are like hand shakes now a days!" They would look at me in horror; none of them were teachers, or parents for that matter. I knew it was crass but it was true and I was trying to make a stern point.
Today's kids are waaayyyyyy past that. After spending 72 hours attempting to lock down his phone, my head is spinning. The apps, secret codes, and hidden messages is overwhelming. I am not one to invade anyone's privacy, but my kid is 14. I didn't have a phone, Snapchat, and the other ten thousand shady apps when I was his age, damn, I didn't even have call waiting. There were no cell phones, if I needed to call home I needed to find a dime! It has been days of arguing and stomping around sulking. I hate this feeling, it makes my heart hurt. I miss my little kid. I know it's all part of the process of growing older, but it's still hard. I don't know what is on the horizon, but as I look into my crystal ball I see a very uncomfortable conversation with my child in my future!
Oh how I wish there was a parenting handbook.