Monsoons of Adolescence or How Parenting a Teenager is Sometimes Like Experiencing A Sudden Flash Flood.

Teen-Arguing682874470a-main_Full Ever been in Tucson in the middle of the summer?  For me, the weather is gorgeous.  I love opening my door and feeling that blast of heat that resembles an oven set to 450 degrees.  I lived in Tucson one summer and loved every minute of it.  It was the only time as a parent that I enjoyed the stay-at-home-mommy status. 

One thing that comes with that glorious heat is the instantaneous monsoon weather.  One minute the sky is brilliantly blue and the weather hot.  Perfect tanning times.  The next moment, you are running for cover under a downpour so torrential even a native Oregonian would fear for her life.  Flash floods are no joking matter.  Monsoon season is just a way of life for the native Southwesterner.  I loved it, but during my short stay in the region, I never got over the sudden switch the weather could make from serene to stormy. 

Sometimes we mess up as parents and make the wrong decision or say something ( even well intentioned) in a way that wasn’t received quite the way we hoped by the teenager. Before we know it, the sunny weather in our home has transitioned to hurricane force gales with words hurling like debris in a tornado. 

In instances like these, you might wonder, what just happened there? You might also wonder, why am I saying that?  Or why is he/she saying that?!

The reality is, no matter how good we become as parents, we are bound to have some conflict with our teenager at some point. My mother used to suggest that the best remedy for this sudden monsoon like behavior in our teen is, simply, to dig a hole, bury them and unearth them when they turn 25.  Now, I’m not sure how practical it would be to bury anyone alive, let alone a teenager (especially if they have a cell phone with text messaging), but I got my mom’s point:  sometimes all you can do when dealing with the sudden mood shifts is to hang on and wait out the storm.

Sometimes those mood shifts are unexpected and unexplained.  Sometimes, we as parents, create them by being less than supportive, or positive or by not listening closely enough to our child.  Whatever the case, even in the best of homes some conflict is bound to occur.

What strategies do you employ to mend the rifts and stay connected?

The Trouble With Going Postal

Look.  I’m probably going to get myself in trouble with the bigs for saying this, but the truth is I’d like to go postal.  I can’t though.  I mean, I try, but I just can’t.

I just can’t post anything these days.  At least, not much that I’m pleased with.  And forget posting anything quality during the week.  (Okay, no potshots about the quality the rest of the time, wise guys!)

I have about six posts started.  None completed.  Just when I get to the place where I really need to concentrate either because I’m reworking a part or trying to figure out which direction I’d like the piece to head, someone or something interrupts me. Today, it was my 15-year-old telling me at the last minute that she needed cupcakes for a class party tomorrow. Of course, she waits till I’ve taken off my shoes and socks, changed into my cozy jammies and am nearly two steps from curling up in my oversized and very cozy king sized bed befre she ever so sweetly says, “Hey, Mom….”.  You know the rest of the story.

My head started spinning around with green stuff flying everywhere.

Okay, according to her, I did go postal so, also according to her, my first statement was a misrepresentation. 

Well, it was nothing compared to how I felt after I got dressed again, went down to the store with her, picked up the three dozen cupcakes (after going two different places to find them), drove all the way home and then realized we’d left them at the checkout counter.

Wow. Someone around here needs to go to bed earlier.

The Good With The Bad…For Lack of a Better Title

I guess I’m living life in all its reality.  I mean, crap is happening…see my most recent post before this one about the drains in my house.  And the sewer incident was preceeded by my car blowing it’s engine this summer, which was preceeded by a year of trauma with cars, including the rear differential of my 4×4 dropping right out onto the street sometime just before Christmas of last year.  Due to my divorce a year ago…well…almost a year ago, finances have been tighter than I’ve ever known in my entire adult life.  Debt is gradually and consistently getting paid off, and I know I won’t be in this place forever, but because I have no wiggle room, it is nothing short of a crisis when things outside the budget occur.  So, that segment of my life is not the happy part of my reality. 

Along with all the stress associated with having to live so very spartan-like and not having the money for extras of any kind…heck, I don’t even have the money for some of the essentials, at times…life has its joyous elements and moments.  These moments splattered the crappy colors of my otherwise dismal financial reality with hope, energy, love and life. 

For example, due to the dismal situation with my drains, I had to call my first ex to take my three oldest children.  This resulted in them being gone for an entire week which was sad and very disappointing.  On the up side, though, it gave me some concentrated time with my youngest.  She slept with me every night and we were able to spend some fun time together in the evenings in spite of me having to complete some extra projects for work.  This was a very happy result of a somewhat stinky situation.

I also mentioned the plumber coming over and bringing dinner and drinks.  That ended up being very fun, and while it is still too soon to tell anything, he is definitely a decent man with a bit of heart and character to him.  And, he doesn’t have a problem communicating about himself or his thoughts…and even better than that…it appears he is capable of taking responsibility for his actions.  He’s continued to call me, we’ve gotten together one other time since the drain date, and while I’m not holding my breath, I think he will, at least, be a good friend if romance or reality doesn’t completely destroy us first. 

Finally, while I’m working some insane hours because I have about three extra projects I agreed to take on (no I’m not getting paid…yes, I am networking and padding my resume), I am loving every minute.  My students and I have this incredibly positive dynamic going in the classroom, the two other teachers I work with at my grade level are wonderful!  It helps that they are men.  There is no PMS-ing and the stress due to my colleagues having to have every little thing nailed down and signed in blood is completely gone. These two guys are nowhere near the definition of “control freak”.  If I screw up the world doesn’t end, if they need to adjust something I’m way relaxed and able to flex with it.  It soooo works for us…and it works for the kids too.  I enjoyed working with my old team and my other grade level…but…there were points where it was toxic.  Add to that the fact that I could have gone to grade level meetings for years (and did) and never have said one word and no one would have asked my opinion about anything, nor would they have cared.  That is not the case with my current team.  I contribute and they respect it.  I like that.  Plus, I really like the fact that they don’t PMS…

Living life in all its reality.  The good with the bad.  The tough times laced and threaded with really happy, nearly hysterically funny moments.  Moments like the writing session I had this week where a student announced that he was going to share his writing on “How To Kiss a Girl” and I told him and the class, “Wait!  First of all, I hope this will be rated G and in good taste.”  Hmmm, that was almost as bad as the time in my first year of teaching when at the end of the P.E. session I instructed the students to “Hold your balls!” Not so good….but very funny!  The kissing writing ended up being very sweet and very entertaining.  My kids are not afraid to laugh and enjoy our class.  This pleases me, no matter how backed up my drains are. 

The good with the bad.  Three of my kids had to live elsewhere this week and I missed them, but my second oldest got into the choir she tried out for as well as making it into the advanced drama class she auditioned for.  My oldest passed her written driver’s test with flying colors but failed the driving portion.  She’s taking it well and in 28 more days will be trying again.  My son is in cross country and the change to middle school is working very well for him, even though he still hates doing yard work.  At least I’m not having to harp on him about homework.  He does it gladly these days.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am.  One man who expresses interest in getting to know me, goes silent, two more step in to take his place.  The good with the bad. The bad with the good.  Life in all its reality.  It is never totally and completely a perfect fairy tale is it?