"You can't make me do something against my will." he stated with grave certainty.
This is fourteen. It's a battle for autonomy, and I understand that. But unfortunately, the need for independance and the maturity with which to deal with it, have not developed at the same rate.
"I can take care of myself." he says.
"I can make my own decisions." he asserts.
And then he does something of such inordinate foolishness as to makes one's jaw drop.
Usually, I take these kinds of pronouncements in stride. I try to give him small freedoms when I can. Because I remember the impotence and the indignance of being babied, when clearly, I was all but grown up. I remember my determination to forge my own path and how I fought tooth and nail whenever I thought that right was being usurped. I've come to realize from my own adolescence as well as that of my children, that most times, trying to strongarm a teenager accomplishes nothing other than to make them dig in their heels all the more firmly.
But this? This was not a bid for independance. This was nothing more than a battle of wills. Neither of us bothered to pretend that it was anything otherwise.
"Oh really." I said calmly.
Physically, I really can't make him do anything against his will. And that's a disconcerting reality. At 5' 11" and 150 pounds of pure sinew, bone and muscle, he towers over me. I can no longer grab him firmly by his upper arm and march him in which ever direction I please. I can no longer wrap my arm around his tummy and heave him off his feet. I can't spank him. I can't physically dominate him in any way, shape or form. And he knows it.
He is testing those waters now, to see how much leverage his size and stature will give him.
My dead calm unnerved him a bit, but he wasn't about to show it.
"Yes, really." he said, confidently.
That did it. I was good and mad. I really try to keep my cool when dealing with him, because shouting doesn't help matters. And I try to look at things from his perspective, because being a teenager is hard and confusing and not much fun sometimes. I wouldn't go back to those days for all the tea in China.
But sometimes...sometimes he makes me so angry...that when Diplomacy Mom is debating about the best way to handle her wayward manchild, Hard Ass Mom steps in and takes over.
"Alright then, hand over your cell phone."
"Your iPod and your xBox controllers too. And say goodbye to your internet."
"Listen dude, the law says I have to provide you with food, clothing, shelter, education and basic medical care. The law does not say I have to provide you with a cell phone, a computer, an ipod, and an xBox live account. Those are privileges. Privileges have to be earned. How? With good behavior and respect for Dad and me and some gratitude for all that we give you. Since you don't feel you have to give that respect or that gratitude, I don't feel I have to provide you with those luxuries."
"MOM! That's not FAAAAIIIRR!".
"Fair? You want to talk to me about fair? Do you really want to have that conversation with me?"
"Oh, so suddenly it's "Ma'am" is it?"
"So, do I have to drag you into the car, or what?"
That was the end. He got in the car with no further protests and didn't even pout once we arrived at our destination.
So the battle is won, but not the war. Not by a long shot. It's going to a long, fierce campaign. Luckily, the victory is both of ours. I get the peace of mind that comes with knowing I turned my son loose on the world equipped to be a responsible, productive part of society. He...gets to be a responsible, productive part of society.
And for those of you thinking to yoursevles...
"My child will never speak to me what way..."
Forewarned is forearmed. Your child most certainly will. Just accept that now. Adolescence changes all the rules and turns your children into recalcitrant strangers. They do things you never thought they'd do, they say things you never thought they'd say. That doesn't make them bad...it just makes them teenagers. We all went through it. Lord but I said some awful things to my Mother.
That baby and toddler stuff? Pffft. Cakewalk.
Gee...have I said that before?