just breathe….and keep repeating “they are teenagers”

blendedFamilyOwls

I love my teenager, I love my teenager, I love my teenager, I love my teenager.

Really and honestly, I do.  But now I understand that phrase that goes something like understanding why wild animals eat their young.

In the world of teenagers, mine is pretty special.  He really is a great kid, but he still drives me nuts. And today is one of those days.

And I am a step parent which means I am missing that gene connection which does sometimes make things even harder.  He and his father speak their own secret language and communicate via grunts and hand signals some days. But that’s what guys do, I suppose…..

Me? I would just like to be heard some days period.

Today is one of those days.

I ask the teenager in the house to do virtually nothing.  He doesn’t have tables to set or dishwashers to empty or kitchens to clean up or meals to prepare.  He doesn’t vacuum.  He doesn’t take out the trash. Sometimes he does mow the lawn for which I am eternally grateful, no sarcasm, as I am murder on lawns even though I can garden up a storm.parenting

For three days I have been waiting for someone to bring in the recycling containers. It has been horribly rainy so I get no one wants to get soaking wet bringing in trashcans. And usually I do it. This week I decided on the equivalent of a mom strike. I wasn’t going to do it.

Finally today I texted my teen dream and asked him  if I wasn’t yet home when he got in from school if he could please help me out and bring in the recycling containers.  Yes I said “please”.

When I came home, the video games were working just fine, but the trashcans were missing their teenager sitting still on the curb at the end of the driveway. And in the front hall framed items on the wall were hanging by the edge of their hooks due to a knapsack direct hit.

Deep breath. (Scream into pillow if necessary.)

I said hi  when I walked into the family room and asked why the cans were still out there. One ear comes out from under the gaming headphones and I get the “don’t-interrupt- me- I- am- gaming- look”. First he said why did he have to do that and then he said well he didn’t know and  while clicking away on the video game controller not even looking at me,  he was “sorry”.

And went back to his gaming.

Parent dismissed. Grrrrr.

Did I expect him to spring up from the sofa and run and bring them in? No. But I kind of sort of thought maybe I would get a “Sorry I will get them when I get off of the game.”

But I got nothing. Well that isn’t true, I got teenage attitude for his friends’ benefit.

Ok yes this is all normal when dealing with teenagers of any variety.  But I am a step parent.  And step parents have a harder go at this stuff because we are all told we are to be the child’s friend, they aren’t our children, we can’t discipline them and so on.

A blog called ManicMommy0914 wrote a post in February about being a step parent. It really resonated with me when she said:

Being a step parents role is rarely defined

When you have a blended family a step parent usually does not get called  “mom” or “dad” no matter how much more they do than the biological parent. The biological parent may rarely see the child but automatically gets the name “dad” or “mom” is this fair? No but fair does not matter when it comes to parenting, does it?

You are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t

Step parents get a bad rep for being mean even when they have done nothing different than the biological parent. No matter what the situation is for the child if you are laid back about the problem then “you don’t care” if you take the punishment route “you are mean.” Which leaves the step parent in a rough situation because however they choose to handle the situation they are doomed….

You often live in a state of uncertainty

Step parents can be easily confused about where they fit in, or how they fit in to their step-children’s lives.

….I see biological parents walking out of their kids life all the time and step parents having to step up to the plate…A step parent is so much more than just a parent because they made a choice to love you when they didn’t have to….So here is to all the step parents out there. I applaud you. I respect you. You are appreciated. You are loved. Just remember any one can be a mother or father but it takes someone really special to be a step parent.

I have this post bookmarked.  It was like the writer was speaking right to me. I wish I could send the author a thank you note.

I love my teenager but his ten year old self was so much easier to deal with and understand. He drank hot chocolate and gave me hugs.  I feel guilty complaining but I am frustrated. And compounding the frustration are video games.raising-teenagers

I don’t like video games and I freely admit it.  Loudly. If I felt like they were other than a teenage addiction, maybe I would be more neutral or even ambivalent.  But that is all I see is the focus on the games.  At the expense of everything else.

A lot of parents don’t care how many hours their kids game and don’t limit it. I am not judging. But I will tell you what I get in my home with prolonged video game use: I hear the gaming a couple of floors up – my teenager has the headphones that allow him to interact and communicate (shouting often ensues)  with other gamers.  He just plays and plays and plays.  No stopping to eat or even get anything to drink  unless we remind him. And any adult interruption of the sacred art of gaming is not necessarily a bright or cheery thing to deal with. I have even gotten the teen attitude when I have tried to show interest in the games.

Much to my surprise there is a website about video game addiction. And yes I realize no teenager anywhere is going to want parents to read ANYTHING on this website.

In my humble opinion, I miss the days when kids went outside first before anything else. My neighbor and I were talking about this a week or so ago.  She asked me if I remembered being a kid and the weather was nice and trying to figure out how soon you could go outside, and where you could go and how long you could stay out. I do remember that. The weather would warm up and the kids in my neighborhood would pour out of their houses. Pick up games of soccer, kick the can, and so on. Even the teenagers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “moderation in all things” and I am not perfect so I can’t expect the teenager to be.  But I would like some video game moderation. Not gaming first last and in between which is what it feels like to me now.  And I would like to be able to use my family room once in a while.

The irony is when my teenager is at other people’s houses he is the kid of impeccable manners. And he is helpful. LOL I need to get myself a teenager like that!

So someday the teenager will read this and look at me quizzically like I was writing about someone else….and someday farther down the road still I look forward to when he calls his father and tells him his kid or kids are driving him crazy.

Until then I will be doing a lot of gardening…..

Sign me parentis trying NOT to be loco.

Thanks for stopping by.

The-Boys-Room-by-Judy-Clement-Wall

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2 thoughts on “just breathe….and keep repeating “they are teenagers”

  1. Hi: I raised 2 step daughters. I feel for you. I had one that was an angel and the other was the bad seed from the Exorsist. They grow out of it eventually if you live long enough. Take nothing personally it’s just a “thing” they do. However, when they want a ride some where or a favor next, remind them of the trash cans or whatever they didn’t do when you asked, and calmly walk out of the room. And stick to it. We went almost one week without doing laundry and dishes and piles in the sink before they realized there was nothing to eat on or wear..lots of ways to retaliate without being a “nag” in their mind. Also, in my mind, he should be doing chores around the house at his age. A chart to keep track to earn bonus minutes on the v games? or
    for $$…whichever is more important . Today it seems more difficult to keep the sense of FAMILY
    and respond=ibility in the home. Good Luck and bless all of you.

  2. OMG, I could tell you stories about step-parenting. I was step-parent to four. Two(both girls) in my first marriage, Two(girl and boy) in my second marriage. Had one son of my own in the first marriage and therefore my second wife was his stepmother.

    But, as to laundry, wife #2 declared that, if it wasn’t in the laundry basket, she wasn’t washing it. After 2 weeks, a stinky, 13 year old boy asked her to do some wash for him and she told him that she wasn’t washing his laundry anymore, but she would teach him how to use the washer and dryer. He had to do his own laundry from that day on. Next time, I will tell you how I figured out that he, at 14, was driving my wife’s car up and down 202 with a buddy, when we were out in my car. We have survived. Good luck.

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