Staying Grounded in the Adolescent Storms

The problem with sharing your personal life online is that people read what you write. People who might know other players in the great drama of your life. People who might then point out to those other actors on the stage how they’ve been characterized. When I review a movie, I don’t particularly worry about ruffling the feathers of an actor, director or cinematographer, but when I’m here on my dad blog writing about my life, well, it can be a bit more tricky.

Consequently, sometimes — like now — I write about things obliquely, or side-step the interesting part (aka “me whinging”) and explore what is hopefully the bigger picture. Or at least the story that can help distract me from what’s going on. In this case, I’m going to talk about the storm that has engulfed me in the last few weeks without explaining why or what’s caused it. Suffice to say that the weather patterns in my life are way less predictable than what the National Parental Weather Service might suggest. 🙂

And so this brings us to week three of school for my children. Their Mom is out of town for a few weeks for an ostensible emergency — ‘nuf said about that (see my opening paragraph) — and the kids are with me for the duration, for better or worse.

Which has certainly proven interesting as each adjusts to the new world of their individual lives.

Sometimes it feels like a wonderful experience is enveloping us all. And other times, well, it’s the oncoming storm…

tornado heading up the street

The greatest change is with my son G-, who is now in ninth grade and a high schooler. He’s doing really great and I’m proud of him, but he’s also trying to figure out this new world of homework, considerably greater personal responsibility and how to balance his desire to do really well academically with his desire to hang out with his buddies and do dumb, 14yo stuff.

Computer games? Biking around aimlessly? Picking up a candy bar, a Red Bull and some potato chips at the market? He’s definitely got those covered.

It’s quite fascinating to watch, a big piece of adolescence flashing by on the screen at a remarkable rate. At times he’s the grumpy, angry prototeen who grunts and complains about being misunderstood, then at other times, sometimes just a few minutes later, he’s engaged, thoughtful and delightful, a true pleasure to be around.

My oldest is in 12th grade, back in school after a year of home schooling through an online program. The drama, the complexity of being a girl in a modern high school, the fragility of her becoming, not yet being, are all still there, but there’s a determination, an inner motivation that’s just starting to establish itself too, and that’s a wonder to behold. In a very new way, the young woman she’s going to become is coming out and while it’s occasionally maddening, it’s also a glimmer of hope that she might just make it through all of this chaos and come out the other side a wonderful person who will be a joy to have in my life.

And there’s my little one who is now in fifth grade but is pretty darn convinced she’s the third high schooler in the house. Except sometimes when we have time one-on-one and play Go Fish or just cuddle up and read a book. Then she breathes out and remains my little buddy, sweet and loving. I much prefer the latter, she’s far less ornery!

Mix all three of these together, add a generous dose of my own “I need time for my business, and I need time for me” into the mix, and it’s no wonder that it feels like very day is a camping trip on the plains, trying to enjoy the picnic but looking around for yet another fast-moving tornado to interrupt the brief idyll.

This last 24hrs has been typical: G- wanted me to wake him up at 6am so he could go to pre-school basketball practice. He went to bed relatively late (around 10). A- stayed up working on homework and talking with me about her life, challenges, frustrations and hopes, until 11.30pm.  In the early hours of the morning G- was feeling awful, whining and yawning, so this morning when the girls decided they wanted to go to school via Whole Foods so A- could get a fancy juice (since she’s driving!) it was without him because my son was — and still is — asleep. High school boys and their sleep. Kids and chaos.

Just one day without drama, without illness, without complexity. That’s all I ask. I mean, at this point it really feels like there’s no respite and they’re not exactly high-demand pre-schoolers any more at 17, 14, and 10.

Sheesh. I never realized quite what a perpetually demanding world parenting would be. Did I sign up for this? 🙂

6 comments on “Staying Grounded in the Adolescent Storms

  1. I thought navigating life with a 3 and 5 year old was hard … yikes.

    My boys can’t read my daddy blog yet. That’s a relief. But those skills are coming soon, and soon my online rambling will take on a new perspective. Maybe I can withhold their web access til they’re 18???

    • Yeah. No Internet ’till they’re 18. Good luck with that one, amigo. I’m betting it already *is* hard to keep them offline…

  2. Kids are hard! Damn. I’ve wanted a parrot in the past, but can’t commit to that. I think my decision to not commit to children either is probably best for now. LOL!

    I don’t know how my mother didn’t kill me when I was a teenager. I was generally a good kid, but a First Class Eye Roller. I’m surprised I didn’t ever get slapped.

  3. I’m lucky and cursed. Lucky that my 10th grade daughter is a morning person and once she gets into the swing of school has no problems getting up and ready without intervention. She is even ready early most days. The curse is that I’m a night person, going to bed about 1am. So when my alarm goes off at 5:50am so I can get her to school and head to a 7am meeting, I end up with a lot less sleep that I would like…

  4. Yes, YOU did sign up for this and I guarantee you that if you hadn’t had these three WONDERFUL kids, your life would be FAR less rich AND interesting. As far as revealing too much, I got in the habit of having my family read ANYTHING I wrote in which they were mentioned. In time, they gave me “approval” without really reading it at all. But, I asked. Their friends are NOT reading your blog, DT – trust me. And, you’re smart enough not to reveal anything that would truly embarrass them.

    Your life will seem SO BORING when this chapter is over – and when they are living on their own – say, in 15 – 20 years or so! If you’re lucky!

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