Thursday, September 25, 2014

The hardest job in the world....


One of the hardest things for me, as a parent, is watching my boys struggle. Sure, all kids struggle at times, but some seem to struggle more than others. When my boys were little, my youngest son was very clingy and shy. In preschool, his best friend was a girl, because the boys were too rough for him. Now, at 15, he is outgoing and confident, and travels with a large pack of boys, many of whom were those same preschoolers that were "too rough" for him back when they were 4. He plays football, and in spite of his smaller size, is an impact player on the A team for his high school. I have no idea how it happened or where this confidence came from. I look at him, and think, how did I get this kid? How did he turn it around?

My oldest is a different story. Friendly, talkative, and helpful as a child, around other kids, he could be shy but always had friends. He was more of a follower than a leader, and that always worried me. Now he really worries me more than ever. Lacking in self confidence, he is doing things that are getting him into trouble. His judgement has been really poor over the past year. I've written before about my summer with the boys and some of the trials they've put me through. I hoped when school settled down, so would my boys. My youngest has. Between playing football and doing school work, he's busy and doing well. I don't worry so much about him.

But my oldest? This past week, I received notice that he's failing 2 classes. His excuse is that school just started and he'll get his grades up. He never seems to have homework. But that's because he isn't doing it. When I received an email from one of his teachers regarding his failing grade, I told him he was grounded. He protested mightily. I also found out that he never told me about or signed up for the PSAT practice test. We argued about that. He signed up at the last minute, and used that to try to negotiate his punishment. No deal.

All day long I got these yesterday.....

Yesterday, I finally did what I never have wanted to do as a parent, and searched his room. It didn't feel good. Confirming what I already suspected, I found some rolling papers and lighters. No weed, though. I wasn't surprised at what I found, but I was really sad. I talked with my husband, who is normally much slower to punish than I am, and he and I talked about how we were going to handle this. I also talked with my son's guidance counselor at school, who was extremely helpful. Her suggestion was to drug test him. As was the suggestion of one of my friends who has been going through something similar with her son.

Ugh. When I worked at my old clinic, a medicaid clinic, I had parents ask me to drug test their kids all the time. I wouldn't do it. I told them that if they suspected their kids were using drugs, most likely they were right, and that they could buy a test over the counter to confirm their suspicions. I didn't want to be the one to confront the kids. Now that I'm in their shoes, I totally get why they wanted me to be the bad guy. Because it doesn't feel good to have that conversation. But I knew I had to do it.



So last night, when I got home from work, I asked my son to come upstairs. I opened his desk drawer and pulled out what I had found. I told him that I hated to have to do that, but that I was getting really worried about him. He looked stunned, but told me he bought the stuff to "sell it" to other kids. I asked him why he would want to do that and he said that he just thought they might want it. None of the paraphernalia was used. So I'm still not clear on why he had it. I asked him if he was smoking weed, and he of course denied it. I asked him if I did a drug test, would it be positive? He said no, but he wouldn't look me in the eye. "So," I said, "if I gave you a cup to pee in, and I tested it, nothing would show up?" He looked down and said no. I told him that if things didn't improve, that I would do that. He mumbled some smart ass remark and slunk away to the couch where he was watching videos on his phone.

He's home today, no school because of the Jewish holiday, and he has not asked me once about getting "ungrounded". He's also been pretty quiet, and not saying much to me. I don't know if he's thinking about what we talked about or not. Maybe I'm not tough enough. Maybe I should have made him give me a urine sample last night. But what would it prove? Something I already know? Am I wrong? I will say my husband I both agreed that we don't want to do this.

I don't think he's using that often, but I worry that it could turn into more than casual use. He's a quiet kid now, with few friends. He doesn't play sports. What better way to get attention and notoriety than to do bad things, get a reputation for smoking weed and failing classes?

Believe it or not, I was this kid in high school. I had zero self confidence. I had friends but I always felt awkward, like I didn't fit in. My sister Lisa was the cheerleader and super popular. I could never live up to that standard, so I made my own. I smoked pot, I drank...my grades dropped. So so stupid! Is history repeating itself? If I could do it over again...but they say hindsight is 20/20. For sure. And we learn from our mistakes and grow. As long as we don't do anything really stupid and hurt ourselves or get in trouble, that is...

I was pretty lost until my late 20s. When my lack of self esteem and anxiety began to take over my life,  I started to run. As I continued to run, I started to feel good about myself. I still had a long way to go, but running really turned my life around. So this morning, when I came back from my fantastic speed work session, feeling on top of the world in spite of what is going on at home, I said to my son, "its too bad you don't like to run. It really helps me feel good." He just grunted. But he sees this! He sees what I'm doing! Why can't he apply it to his life?

It's hard to sit back and watch him make some of the same mistakes I did as a teen. I'm fortunate that I was able to turn it around. I wish I could make him see how much easier his life would be if he had an outlet, like running, to make him feel good about himself. Right now, all I can do is hold his hand and try to keep him from going backwards.


17 comments :

  1. Oh man, I'm so sorry you're going thru this with your son. Their brains just aren't developed at this age. They do such stupid things. We have to protect them from themselves, I swear. Does he belong to any clubs? Can he be encouraged to do a sport? I think if he could identify with a positive group, that would help a ton. Hugs my friend.

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    1. It's tough..even when he was little, we'd put him in sports and he just wouldn't even try. He has a job, which is good. We'll get through this. I just wish I could inspire him.

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  2. I know you don't feel like it right now, but you're a good mom. So much strength! I hope you feel better after writing this because you're doing a good job! Thank you for opening up and sharing.

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    1. Thank you! Writing this definitely helped. I just am at a loss but I'll just keep moving forward and pushing him. It's hard. But we'll get through it.

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  3. Sorry to hear about your troubles. You always seem to say the right things at the right time. Who cannot appreciate you? Seems like family members are the hardest to inspire to run. I'm still working on my 10-year old son. When I was about 7, my mom encouraged us to jog. I went for about 2 or 3 times, and never again until 2 years ago. Sometimes I wonder, "would I be running if my mom didn't make us?" In time, although it may seem not soon enough, your son will practice what you do.

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    1. Haha! Thanks! I don't think it matters what I say right now. I hope someday he'll look back and appreciate what I've tried to do for him.

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  4. I do not envy you; I can't even imagine what it must feel like to be in your place. I hope that you can get through to him and help him turn things around. Best of luck to you--I'll be thinking of you!

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    1. Thanks so much! I hope he comes to his senses soon!

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  5. Wow. I have so much respect for you and your husband, trying to figure out the maze of your son's teenage life; I can only imagine how tough that must be! Thank you for sharing your journey with us; I'll never forget when my dad called me (I was already out of the house, in college) to tell me that my mom found weed in my younger brother's room; we are 7 years apart, and he was in high school at the time. He was grounded, too, and, of course, there were no cell phones for teenagers at that time, so he didn't have much to keep him busy, other than video games which he was not allowed to play during his punishment. I remember thinking they should be thankful that was all he was into, but I know it can become a much larger issue. It all worked out, eventually, and he's really successful now - ha! You're doing a great job; hang tough.

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    1. I feel the exact same way--I think if we can head this off, we'll be ok--I don't think he's seriously into anything and I hope he figures this one out before he gets into some serious trouble. Like most of us did...

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  6. Just wanted to say I"m sorry you are going through this. I absolutely dread these teenage days and I am convincing myself that my children will be the exception to every single other teenager ;) For what it's worth, in my opinion you handled that situation perfectly. You obviously had an impact on him. His behavior seems to reflect that he feels embarrassed and guilty. You can't control his behavior, but you can control how you respond to it and I think you are responding appropriately. I hope he finds happiness soon :)

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    1. Thanks! I'm just not ready to come down hard on him yet, I'm waiting to see where this all goes. Plus I have to save some of the punishments in case I need to use it.

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  7. This was particularly hard for me to read. I've gone through some stuff with my son and it brought it all back for me. I know how you feel. It's not easy. You are giving it and him the attention it needs and what he will get from it is that you are a loving and caring mom. Don't ever doubt or question what you do as a parent. Those are your instincts that keep your kids safe. I ❤️ you Wendy. Big hugs :)

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    1. Thanks, Liz! It helps me so much to talk to other parents who are going through this or have been there. It would be so easy to give in and let him just do his thing. It's so hard to be tough!

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  8. I have been horrible at reading blogs lately. I am sorry. I am sitting here reading your blog waiting for the sun to come up and I read this. Wow. I am sorry you are going through this. I too was this kid in high school. Not so much the pot smoker(I did try it!) but the kid that made my parents worry. I look back now and feel so bad at the things I did to my parents. But I came out OK and hopefully your son will too. You are a GOOD parent and it's obvious your love for him. I'm here if you need a friend. xoxoxo Thank you for sharing this. I know that it wasn't easy.

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    1. Thanks Karen! I needed to write it, to put my thoughts down. Writing helps me process tough situations! Parenting teenagers is so hard! I had an inkling it would be tough, but nothing prepared me for this.

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  9. I've had a variety of experiences with my three sons on this and other fronts. It would be so easy if they could vicariously learn from our own bad experiences by simply taking our advice, but how often does that actually happen, especially with a boy in this age range? The good thing is that he is definitely taking notice of what you are doing in your own life, the exercise, the lack of substance use, etc. Even if he isn't copying it all right now, I feel it's being thought about and banked. I hope you will all be able to keep talking about this as a family, that he won't be too private, too embarrassed, or too afraid of punishment to keep having conversations with you. It's really nice to share and get support from other parents, but consider taking the details out of this post for his future privacy.

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