These modern children sure are different. I don’t know if it’s the pesticides, the microwave rays or the constant barrage of electronics vying for their attention—but like my mama loves to say, “these kids ain’t like y’all used to be.” For instance, my mama only had to tell me to ‘be quiet’ once. Well, OK… two times. Yet, nowadays, attempts to shut down my very chatty teenaged son is like having a conversation with a customer service rep from India speaking broken English through a crackling connection. It’s protracted and frustrating, to say the least. And, it doesn't help that I'm premenopausal. The following is a sample of dialogue that ensued after my teen son recently spewed a derogatory comment toward one of his younger brothers:
Premenopausal mom: Son, be quiet.
Son: But, blah, blah, blah…
Premenopausal mom: I said be quiet.
Son, looking surly: But, blah, blah, blah…
Premenopausal mom, this time using son’s full name for greater emphasis: I SAID BE QUIET!
Son, looking even surlier: But, blah, blah, blah!
This goes on for about six rounds before I realize the insanity of it all. It’s also in this moment that I begin having what I call a Premenopausal Surge where I can imagine, with vivid detail, lunging for the overly talkative boy’s neck and squeezing so hard that I pop off one of his ears so that he has to walk around looking like a neglected Mr. Potato Head. But, since I’ve made it 45 years without seeing the inside of a lockup (except when I took my younger boys on a jail museum tour), in a bold and uneventful move, I decide to gracefully stand and remove myself from the disrespectful teen’s presence. That’s it. No fireworks, no neck twisting, no violence--thank God.
Now, before you couch psychologists begin pouncing and analyzing that my child just wants a chance to vent his concerns and be heard: let’s be clear, I have always given my child freedom to express himself. Yet, this does not include hurling offensive and incendiary remarks at his brother. Come to think of it, when I envisioned shaking him like a Mr. Potato Head, I should have imagined his lips falling off. Humor helps. A lot.
Kysa Daniels is a journalist, non-profit professional and mother of three boys. For more Adventures in Parenting and parenting tips, e-mail email@example.com.