Life intervenes. . . Our home life has been very unpleasant lately as my 15 year old son has been acting really very crappy. Our sons get treated a hell of a lot better than my husband and I ever were when we were their ages. But the self-centered teenager that he is, he refuses to listen and understand. My husband and I have been living through hell dealing with his ugly moods, and life just has been miserable, to say the least.
I was born without a father. He left the scene before I was born. Back when I was young, the term used was "illegitimate." Nowadays, one has a single mom or dad, and as a result we are left guessing the circumstances of a person's birth. My mom hooked up with an Australian man when I was 2, and he is the one who raised me. He died when I was 14 and my mother had to scramble financially as we were not provided for in death. Fortunately, she had previously gone to secretarial school and was able to find a job before we were in a financial bind. Growing up, I was responsible for preparing dinners for her after I got home from school. I don't remember ever getting an allowance, and I was careful about what I asked her by way of money because I knew we were just making ends meet.
But I was fortunate that my "father" had left just enough money in my mom's bank account for me to finish schooling at a very exclusive private school in Japan. She then paid for one semester of college. After that, I managed to work my way through the rest of college and paid the rest of my private tuition myself. Thank God for the fact that I spoke English and was able to work as a conversational English teacher. I had a pretty cushy job working 4 hours every evening until 9 p.m. after classes. I made enough money to pay for my tuition and then some. I did miss out on the social scene on campus, but I still had friends from high school living in Tokyo, so I managed some fun times in between classes and work.
My husband had it harder. He was one of five children from a working class family. His dad was very tough on the boys because he was working graveyard shifts to get the family fed. Long story short, my husband moved out when he was 14 and never went back home. He worked full time and continued attending high school until about a month before graduation when he had just had enough. He joined the military and got his GED. He did 5 years in the Navy and then worked his tail off to get a 4 year college degree in two years. He was hired by the government after that and we met shortly thereafter. Not satisfied, he went on to get a Master's Degree when our younger son was just born. He is now the boss of his office here in Houston.
We don't dwell on these facts, but we do mention them once in a while when we get really frustrated with either of our sons. Although we have tried hard not to spoil them and to keep things in perspective, the fact of the matter is that they ARE spoiled rotten. They don't even know it, and they think we are not generous enough as are the parents of their friends. At the stage of life they are in, "generosity" equals "love," and in their minds, we don't love them enough. So what to do?
We are not going to change the way we treat them. We expect them to do certain things and act in a respectful manner. In return, they get to do what they want, within reason. I guess the sticking point is the "within reason" part. Our younger son in particular thinks our definition of "within reason" is not acceptable. The latest spat had to do with us not allowing him to go on a week long trip with his girlfriend's family. We said it was not "appropriate," and he refused to accept that as a reason. Call us old fashioned, but he is only 15 and there are certain things a responsible parent just does not allow one's child to do. This is one of them. Our older one has wised up, and for the most part, is respectful and does what we ask him to do. In return, he gets to hang out with his friends more than we used to let him, because after all, this is his last "free" summer before he graduates.
Honestly, I never thought I would say this, but I can't wait until they are old enough to move out. There's been too much drama lately. I miss the days when they were very small and they were so fun to be around. . .