I Am My Son’s Enemy

I’m so tired of being the enemy.

I’m not a bad person, truly. Yes, I’m opinionated, yes, I have a temper, yes, I am overbearing and controlling and my sense of humor is a bit rough around the edges …

Geez, I’m not painting a very attractive picture, am I?

It appears I am Dude’s number one enemy. He takes everything I say the wrong way. He’s super sensitive to my moods, my tone of voice, any innuendos I might make, or constructive criticism I might offer him (which I assure you, doesn’t happen very often anymore because it’s just not worth the war that follows).

I mean, we’ve never been close, and by that I mean, the boy has NEVER confided in me, but here lately, it seems like he’s really pulling away from me. And it’s just me. I watch him interact with family, with his brother, with Kevin, and he seems to be fine. But every time I try to talk to him, his jaw tightens and his eyes grow hard and he’s snappish and borderline hateful.

I try to think back, was there one thing I did that made him angry at me? Is it the mere fact that I won’t allow him to sleep until the afternoons on weekends, or I shut the Internet off at midnight because I don’t feel comfortable with the boys being on the ‘net that late (doing only God knows what?)

Is it the fact that I keep bugging him about his future? (I don’t bug him, per se, but if an opportunity presents itself about going to college and/or getting a job, I snatch it up and run with it).

I mean, if all of those things are suffocating him because he thinks that just because he’s going to turn 18 next month entitles him to a little freedom (and I’m working on that, truly I am), then here’s what I have to say:


You live here buster, you adhere to our rules. Don’t like it?

There’s the door. Bye.

Harsh? Yes. And I’m really not that mean to him, believe me, but he knows that I expect certain things out of him and he’s just going to have to get off his lazy butt and DO something with his life.

Again. Don’t like my nagging? Then get a job, go to college, or move out.

I’m not giving him those ultimatums yet, but the day is coming, I’m just thinking ahead. I’m just mentally preparing myself for the day he LOATHES me, because I have a feeling it’s coming. When my parents forced me to grow up, I certainly didn’t harbor any warm and fuzzy feelings for them.

But I respected them and in time, I’ve thanked them. Making me grow up was the best thing they could have done for me, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to toughen my heart up a bit if I expect Dude to do the same.

So yes, I’ve been tough on the boy. And I’ve needed to be because he doesn’t have one motivated bone in his body and he would never do any of this grown-up stuff if I hadn’t pushed him (like driver’s license, for example).

I expect he will despise me, I’m not living in la-la land. I push, he pushes back with attitude, I was the same way when I was his age. And I’m sure he thinks I’m an idiot and wishes I would get out of his business, but I can’t. He’s my son, and I love him.

I read somewhere one time that if even though asking your teenagers about their life was uber annoying to them, it was actually worse if you didn’t make the effort. Because if you didn’t take an active interest in your teen, then the teen assumed you didn’t care about them and then all hell breaks loose.

So I make an effort. And I get growls, dirty looks and heavy sighs, but once in a while, once in a blue moon, I get a tiny gold nugget – an answer. A genuine smile. A rare look at what’s going on inside his head. And those moments? Keep me going during the difficult times.

It breaks my heart that our relationship, (is that what you call this? I wonder) has deteriorated to this point. It’s not bad, really, it’s just not where I would like it to be. In fact, I’m probably making a mountain out of a mole hill because if you asked Dude what the problem was? He’d probably look surprised and confused …”there’s a problem?”

I can’t help but wish that Dude and I had the same sort of relationship that Jazz and I have. Jazz talks to me. He asks for advice. He confides in me.

Dude? I’m lucky to squeeze six words out of the boy in a 24-hour period of time.

I’ve tried to treat the boys equally over the years. Same amount of time, same reactions, same number of “I love yous” or notes in their lunches. But I sometimes wonder how Dude feels about all the attention Jazz gets this time of year because of marching band. And since this worries me, I try and over compensate by being too clingy to him, ask him too many questions, wear my heart on my sleeve when he rejects me and I’m sure it just suffocates him.

But I’m desperate to not want him to think back on this time period and resent his little brother for his activities, or be jealous of the time and praise we give to Jazz.

I would LOVE to give that much time and praise to Dude, but he won’t let me. I annoy him just by being in the same room as him. In fact, he will hurry and eat his dinner just so he doesn’t have to answer my questions at the dinner table.

*sigh* It’s really all quite exhausting.

And I said it breaks my heart, right? Because it does.

I think Dude is feeling the pinch, though. He received his Selective Service form in the mail the other day and was quite freaked out about the whole thing. He’s scared he’ll have to fight in a war, and though I didn’t say anything in front of him, I was a bit freaked out, too. I knew he would have to sign up when he turned 18, but Gads, here we are. Now it’s all too real.

I’m frustrated because I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to just leave him alone, he’ll think he’s being rejected, but obviously trying to wedge myself into his life isn’t helping either.

He’s so much like me at that age, but he’s worse somehow because he’s a guy and guys don’t generally spill their guts to begin with; I honestly have no idea what is going on in his life. I know he has friends at school (and I only know this because of his friends on Facebook), so I know he’s not a total recluse, but still, what sort of person is he when he’s not home? I would love to be a fly on the wall just to see.

I joke that we’ll know about every single one of Jazz’s girlfriends, in fact, I’m sort of prepared for drama in that department, but when it comes to Dude? We won’t even know he was dating anyone until he shows up one day, this strange girl on his arm and announces to everyone that he’s engaged!

Mark my words.

I feel pretty comfortable in my mom role with Jazz, but with Dude? I’m totally in the dark, blindly feeling my way and sensing there is a drop-off somewhere close … if only I could see it.