Even though my husband and I were married right out of high school, we didn’t have kids until we were both 35 years old.
I did a lot of growing up in those 16 years of adulthood prior to becoming a mother, but all the growing up of life didn’t prepare me for my two sons.
I am the oldest of three girls, so I didn’t know anything about boys. I never saw my father naked, so I didn’t know anything about the male anatomy until my mother gave me a book when I was ten in lieu of having “The Talk.”
Drama was my life growing up, and lots of hugs and kisses were the building blocks of my family.
Thankfully, by age 35 I had pretty much ditched the drama, but the hugs and kisses were ingrained, so I raised my boys using the same foundation from the moment they entered the delivery room.
Consequently, I was shocked and hurt when my 13-year-old son started rejecting my hugs and kisses. What happened to my little boy?
He was my snuggle buddy. We would always snuggle on the couch when we watched TV, and he would just walk up and hug me several times a day. Then, suddenly, a switch was thrown.
He turned inward, was moody and anger spilled out in spurts like a gaping wound in an artery. I noticed, indeed, but tried not to react.
Well, truth be told, I tried after the fifth time or so… I guess some of that drama had resurfaced in me as a mom.
When I sat down and thought about it, then talked to my husband about it, the reasons became obvious.
I know you men are shaking your heads at this poor naive woman, but I’m sure you were just as clueless when you encountered teenage girl behavior for the first time, right?!
I had to find a new way to relate to my boy without negating or shaming either of us.
My First Attempt
I started cracking jokes and attempting middle school vernacular. That at least got a smile. Then, he retaliated with his jokes and adult vernacular.
It was fun to discover my young man where my little boy had been, but the jokes started turning sarcastic, and I could see the drama creeping back into my life. I had to find something else.
My Second Attempt
I tried talking about feelings. Don’t laugh…That was my go-to response growing up!
Yeah, you can probably say exactly how that went over…at least I got to see the eye rolls I had perfected in my teens thrown back at me.
The one thing that worked. (At least for now?)
We started rough housing again like we did when he was four. I would like to take the credit for this brilliant solution. But, one day when I tried another joke in desperation, he nudged me, and we just went at it full out on the floor, laughing and pinning each other with the dog barking his encouragement.
Being an older mother–52 this year–I have to be careful I don’t fall and break a hip. But, I sense the love flowing again, like when he was younger, and would hug me. I call them RHH now… Rough House Hugs and they are our new normal.
The moodiness is less, and the anger flares quickly to ashes, but if for some reason I don’t make time for our RHH sessions, the anger escalates again, and I get the message loud and clear. He needs a boy hug.
Hugs healing all is a myth for most teens.
I’m told they make an appearance again when the kids get to be around 25, so until then, the RHH work great!
Each stage of parenting presents new challenges. But with teenagers, we parents need to learn the new language very quickly to stay connected with these crazy teenage creatures that take up residence behind the closed doors of our precious little boys’ rooms.
If we don’t, nothing can prepare us for the shock of the hairy man that emerges when the doors finally open again, and they move out to go to college.
Until then, I’ll keep practicing RHH until I’m black and blue and smile at the love produced with each bruise.
How did you adjust to life with your teenage boy?
Photo: Flickr/ Nate
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