Latent Adolescence

Posted by jael on Nov 4, 2010 in Education, Parenting, Spiritual Journey

Like my recent bout with vertigo, my son’s full immersion into the transformation of adolescence has spun the balance of many family dynamics.

The Husband and I sprint to shift our parenting to meet the needs of this new kind of man-child. The Boy calls for respect and space as we maintain new parental roles that are more like consultants than coaches. His experiences are profound, uneven and difficult for us to fully understand. As such, we try to listen more and speak less. Last night, however, he returned home clearly disheartened. He shared his perceptions about some of the experiences that he had encountered during his day and felt discouraged in his evaluation of his progress.

As an outside observer, I of course perceived many of the situations much more positively, and from a different and pro-The Boy perspective. I challenged him to consider that the thoughts he chose to dwell upon were like fireflies in a net. I suggested to him that with practice, he could light up his thoughts and dwell upon other things. For example, instead of the identification of the social interactions or moments of the day that made him feel uncomfortable, he could consider those things from his day that he felt good about, was pleased by or had done well. I told him that I knew it was not as simple as that, but that I believed with practice he could dwell on possibilities.

He is a kind lad, and didn’t tell me what he thought of the idea. However clumsy my attempts to make him feel better, he still trusts that I am trying to help. He offered a hug and shuffled off to bed.

After the day that I have had, I imagine that had he told me what he thought, he would have said it was a load of human fertilizer.

I am one of the “grown-ups” who live in my house, and I had a day that was uneven and profoundly difficult for me to understand. As if the vertigo flipped my insecurity switch to high, every time I left our home I felt like a giant and idiotic loser. In an almost paranoid fashion, I stressed out that people were unhappy with me, didn’t want to associate with me, and/or thought I was crazy. I felt small and unimportant. I felt useless and alone. I began to build a case about how I am not as good as other moms and how every other woman who has ever crowned a head does it better and with more joy and less stretch marks than I muster. As I began to convince myself that I was less than those around me, my self-loathing escaped like a ravenous beast too long starved by self-control. It wanted to eat! It wanted to chew my confidence! It wanted to drink my hope like warm blood.

I had to quiet the beast. I had to assure it that everything was okay. I had to promise that I no longer needed its brutal protection. I struggled with my own thoughts to make it stand-down.

“Stand down,” I told it, “it’s my watch now.”

All the while its insidious rant echoed in my own head like a grenade, I thought about the casual challenge I so piously tossed to The Boy last night. “Capture other thoughts,” I told him. “Dwell on other things.” “If you don’t like the song, change the station.”

I spent the better part of my afternoon and evening trying myself to capture other thoughts, dwell on other things, and change my own damn song! Supposedly I know how to do it, and have a good work history. I confess, even as I type, about the best I have mustered is that I know that I can create a shift in my focus. I haven’t entirely turned the corner on how I’m telling myself the story of my day.

There’s a line from an old hymn that sings, “Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble.”

I tremble for The Boy tonight. Not in fear, I shake in epiphany. If the best that I can metacognitvely achieve in a long afternoon is to identify that I need to shift my attitude (without success), how daunting must it be to The Boy to be flooded by the tsunami Adolescence? How feeble must it seem to him to be counseled about changing his tape?

Man! I not only remember how much it sometimes hurt to be a teen, I experienced full-blown, latent adolescence today.

I need to dwell on how real and large not only his experience is, but his inexperience in dealing with such new thoughts, hormones and uncertainties.

My success today amid my cluttered, internal dialog was that it did not come out of my mouth or show in my behaviors (I hope…!). My neurotic station sings upon the stage of my own choppy mind.

I pray that the next time The Boy’s song hits the air, or manifests through his behavior, that I will be more genuinely sympathetic.

I pray the next time we share that kind of space that I will be able to better honor his experience as he so valorously does the noble work of building up the kind of man he will become.

It’s his watch now.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

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