I need to do this more often… it is truly cathartic. Not only putting my random thoughts “on paper”, but sharing with y’all (and usually learning that I am not alone). I mean, I didn’t even realize that I did not post a single blog/rant in 2021… so weird.
Life is good right now. Insane, but good.
We are in year two of the “pandemic”, and we are doing pretty well – all things considered. Work continues to be flexible, but I am in the office most days. The boys have been able to stay in real school, which I am super grateful for. We got to enjoy a regular football season, an actual school dance, band performances… and hopefully we get to watch Nate play baseball soon!
I am happy. Like ridiculously happy with our perfectly-imperfect family. When you realize that you have found someone to love you in a way, that you didn’t really know you needed – that is pretty freaking amazing. Is it all romance and flowers? Hell no… it’s more muddy yards, family dinners, crazy adventures and daily laughs! Turns out, that is exactly what I need.
All in all, we are doing pretty amazing.
But you guys…. teenagers are A LOT. I mean…. A LOT!!!
It’s like – you should kind of know what to expect, because it wasn’t too terribly long ago, that we were that age… right?!? That is the furthest thing from the truth (not the part about it not being that long ago – but the part about knowing what to expect).
When I was in high school – I was kind of an all-around kid. Sometimes I came to school in boots and western jeans (hello Rockies!), and we would go line-dancing on the weekends. Other times it was dresses (with Doc Martins, duh). Other days it was surf/skate brand sweatshirts, jeans and flip flops. My friends were from all different aspects – we weren’t really labeled as any particular group of people…. just a loud and fun party crowd. I took advanced placement classes, choir, but then also had some easy classes to mostly socialize in… I got good grades, but was known to be a bit of a slacker. My closest friends back then are still my dearest friends now, and I am forever thankful to have them in my life.
Kids these days don’t seem to party like we did (thank you sweet baby Jesus)… but it definitely is not without challenges. My boys… they are like a perfect split of who I was in high school. They are so different from each other, but I can see me in each of them. I don’t know, maybe I am more crazy than I thought…
Let’s start with Nate. He clearly got his love of sports from me (just lucked out he got some other genes with actual skills, because that is NOT me). He is a proud, loud, (self-proclaimed) redneck. He loves Rodeo, hunting, fishing…. getting dirty. Don’t tell him this – but he is pretty hilarious most of the time – though often VERY inappropriate. I caution him often to be careful who he hangs around with, because while they like to have fun, their kind of loud and obnoxious fun can often be taken for causing trouble… and SOME of his friends seem to lack boundaries and common sense. I am thankful that school sports have cautioned him to be careful about his social media presence. He has his moments, where he is a total jerk (don’t talk to him after a game or rodeo – especially if he didn’t do what he felt was his best)! But there are glimmers of hope now & then – where he will thank me for showing up, or doing something for him. I don’t know if he does it on his own, or someone reminds him… but I will take it! He is a good student, could be great if he tried, but he is doing well and is enjoying school as much as the average teenage boy.
Then we have Kevin. My sarcastic, scary smart, artistic weirdo (said VERY affectionately – because I love weird). Kev is a whole vibe. He has his own style. He wears mostly black. He loves all things vintage… his favorite thing is to go to antique stores or bookstores. He has a vast collection of vinyl records (mostly from bands I have NEVER heard of, or classics – because he liked the cover & then realized it was good music). He also got a walkman for Christmas. You read that right…. a battery powered walkman, that plays cassette tapes. He is creative and messy. He comes across as quiet, but man – when he starts talking, you had better be ready! His sarcasm is unprecedented…. He is funny, if you understand his personality. He has a small circle of close friends. They don’t “hang out” much, but spend countless hours connected through their phones. He is doing extremely well in school. He is much smarter than I was, and seems to enjoy the challenge of learning. But, he is a procrastinator (sorry kid, that was a bad thing to inherit).
As you can tell, they don’t have a whole lot in common. But given the fact that they both have similar traits to me… you would think they would get a long a lot better than they actually do. But that is a big fat – NOPE. You would think by now they could sort it out and get along –NOPE. They only seem to tolerate each other most days, but sometimes, when we add another kid to the chaos, it seems to help balance them out a little.
Nate had his best bud stay the night recently. They (loudly) played video games. They giggled (uncontrollably) at really inappropriate things. They ate all the food in my house – and apparently threw cheese and lunch meat at each other (they picked it up… but had to explain what I was seeing in the garbage can). Kev occasionally told them what idiots they are, but it was a whole freaking night, without my kids constant bickering!!! We live out in the sticks, so there isn’t a whole lot of trouble these kids can get into without the use of a car…. But, these 3 fools did order McDonald’s from DoorDash in the middle of the night, while Clark & I were sleeping… I had to laugh at them, and admit I was kind of impressed that they knew the address and gave good enough directions to the driver – but I did warn them about basically inviting a stranger to the door in the middle of the night…. UGH
Where I struggle most, is making sure that they are safe & smart when it comes to social media. I can, at any time, go through their phone and accounts. I admit that I do not do this often enough. I don’t want to pry into their every message and photos… I just try to instill appropriate behaviors. I hope that they make good choices. We have had talks about connecting with people you don’t know, about not sharing any personal information – and about not posting anything (ever) that they would not want to explain to me, because it will all come out in the wash.
Right now we are working on reminding them to ask for permission… I get a lot of “Mom, after school, I’m going to go to the library/got get food with my friends/hang out at someone’s house”… It is never posed as a question, until I force them to ask. And, I’m sorry if folks think I am not hard enough on my kids – but I have a hard time saying no, once they finally ask properly. These fools spent a year+ on lock down, and I genuinely WANT them to go hang out and have fun! Even if it means I stay up late to pick up kids & drive them home. Or we have to run back to town more times that we would like… I want them to go out in the real world, and have real experiences, and I want them to know how to make the right decisions.
Y’all – raising teenagers is HARD. When the kids were cute and little – and everything could be solved with a hug and a snack…. there was a whole tribe of parents that seemed to support and encourage you along the way. While those folks are still there… everyone seems to be struggling on their own. We tend to not want to put things “out there” that don’t support the perfect online life.
I don’t know… maybe you are not as lost in this whole thing as I feel most days. I have been told over, and over again – “You are not hard enough on your boys!” But I really am doing my best. I try to not let the little things bug me. I try to listen and support. I go with the flow – until I lose my shit. Probably not the best parenting method out there, but it seems to be how I am wired.
I just want you all to know, that I am here for you. I have no idea what the hell I am doing… but I am here to lend an ear to if you need. I may not even have any good advice or the right words to say… but I can make you a snack, pour you a drink, and give you a hug & we can pretend it’s all going to be alright.