Something is different in this house. There is a heaviness. There are still hugs and kisses which I am so grateful for because my experience in talking to friends tells me that is not the norm. There is an occasional, “Do you still love me, Mama?” No one but him calls me that and it has become a joke after watching an older movie where the character called her mother, “Mama”. The biggest difference is the silence. He has always been a talker. He’s like me that way. If he feels something, everyone knows it. It’s a blessing in that what you see is what you get but a curse in that you are an open book to the world. But lately, something has changed.
“I had the worst day.”
“Something happened and I was so embarrassed.”
These were followed up with questions from me concerned about what happened. For the first time ever it was answered with:
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
I should clarify. I have heard that before but for the first time ever it wasn’t followed by him pouring it all out.
My mind was/is reeling with what it could be. I asked, “Did you do bad on a test?” “Did you get in trouble?” Both were met with a “No.”
Embarrassed? “Did it have to do with a girl?” “Bodily function?” The CF meds have an embarrassing side effect that thankfully if you are a boy, you sometimes take pride in but sometimes can be mortified by it (if you are confused, think of the dad joke, “Pull my finger”). Again, both were met with a “No.”
Bad day? “Is it football?” “Did something happen at practice?” “I still don’t feel good. I had a bad headache the whole time.” It occurred to me that his meds were due today and didn’t come. I called right away, frantic that he wasn’t going to get the nebulizer that he needs so much. What do you know? An insurance glitch. It’s infuriating. Someone is sitting at a desk not having any idea who my kid is or what he is going through and saying, “No. Not going to get the meds he needs.”
“Was it the worst day because you didn’t feel good?” Again, “No.”
I still don’t know what happened today.
This is a kid that said to me last year, after a conversation that I was screaming silently in my head but calmly answering his questions, “I don’t know what kids that can’t talk to their parents do when they have questions like this. I’d explode if I couldn’t talk to you.”
This is a kid that asked me just a few weeks ago, “Can you help me come up with a way to ask someone to homecoming?”
I knew it was coming. I cherished every conversation knowing it wasn’t always going to be like that. I don’t know that he won’t go back to talking but he’s not talking right now and it makes me sad.
He got more agitated the more I asked and I told him he can’t tell me that stuff and not tell me what happened and his answer was, “I know you are going to ask me why I am acting like this and I wanted you to know why but I don’t want to talk about it.” How thoughtful of him.
I have backed off. Hopefully, if I give him space, he’ll open up. It’s worked in the past. This time feels different. Car rides with him used to work, too. I’ll try but he’s different now. Lately the car rides aren’t good for talking but are filled with fighting. He wants me to let up about sleepovers (why would parents say okay to an all night party because that is what they have turned into) and I want him to go to bed earlier so he can do his treatment in the morning. I want to just get where we need to go. He wants to drive. I want a text to tell me where he is at. He wants the freedom to be where he is without the hassle of checking in. Both sides are met with opposition.
I can feel it changing. He’s a bunch of conflicting emotions. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He wants things I am not okay with. The boys that once sat around my table don’t come around as often. I’m the mom that squashes the fun. They want to roam free. I have too many rules.
I’m curious. Those of you that have teens, does the atmosphere change when your teen comes home or enters the room?
I’m not the first person to raise a teenager and I certainly won’t be the last but why aren’t more people out there saying how hard this is? How hard it is to slowly let them go to learn from their mistakes? How hard it is to not be able to hold their hand while they forge their way? To not be able to protect them from the harsh world out there? To only be able to sit in the wings supporting them and letting them know that no matter how conflicted, how much pressure they feel or how nasty they are to everyone (especially you because you won’t say yes to everything they want), you’ll still love them?