Yesterday was a very difficult day. My teenage son decided to throw another tantrum. It was his second tantrum in as many days. In yesterday’s tantrum he began throwing things around and knocking things over. Several weeks ago when he was throwing things I dialled 911. The police came and talked to him for a while. For several weeks after that he was very careful about his tantrums and managed to keep things pretty much under control. I mentioned this to his counsellor. The counsellor recommended that every time he throws a tantrum and starts throwing things he should get the same result. The police should be called to intervene.
While the police were here yesterday, one of the officers – a corporal – began to lecture me about what the role of the police should be. I was informed that the police should only be called if my son began to throwing things at someone or began to assault us. The lecture went on and on. Eventually I interjected with, “I’m sorry but you are wrong.” For the next few minutes there was silence. Then I began to tell the office that his role was not just to arrest people who committed a crime but to prevent crime as well. I told him, and his partner, that in the twenty years I have lived here I have called them only twice. I told them that it is absolutely ridiculous that I should have to wait until things escalate to that level of violence before they get involved. Before we were done both officers apologized, and the corporal volunteered to come by on Saturday – on his own time I suspect – and talk to my son.
What I am trying to do here is let my son know that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. I want him to know that each time his temper takes him to that extreme I will be calling the police. It is one thing to deal with a tantrum of a fifteen/sixteen year old but if it continues it is something quite different once he is eighteen/nineteen. He needs to learn that behaviour of that nature will always bring the same result – the police will be called to intervene.
As I sit down to write this post I remind myself what it is I am trying to accomplish with this blog. A lot of things have happened since I posted yesterday – a lot of difficult things. I have thought about not putting any of it into the blog. I have thought about downplaying what happened or putting little bits of it in over several blogs. I worried about how my family may be perceived if I posted this. In the end I decided to post what happened and let things sort out as they may.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned that my wife and I were going to talk to our son about his marijuana use and ask him what he thought should be done about it. We did that and all seemed to go reasonably well. I went to bed at about 11:00 and was sound asleep at 1:30 when I woke up to my son screaming that he had just smashed his computer. That was the beginning of what would be several hours of attempting to deal with another tantrum. After about 20 minutes of screaming, throwing things around and amidst incredible stress in our house I decided to call the police. They came – all four of them. They talked to my son and to my wife and me. I was hoping they would take him to the hospital. He has carried on this way for a long time. His counsellor has recommended medication to help him control his anxiety but he has refused. In the end they informed my wife and me that they would not take him to the hospital, and they left. Eventually, we all managed to get back to sleep, and yes we all arrived at school and work at our usual times. After I had finished dropping him at school I was talking to my wife about the event. I reminded her that after the police left our son had said he would never come to me to discuss anything ever again. I chuckled and said, “Gee, I must have missed the discussion part while he was screaming f— at the top of his lungs.” We both laughed – the only other option was to cry.
Oh yes, I was reminding myself why I was blogging. I hoped it would help me cope with the stress – it does that. I also wanted to let others know that they are not alone in facing the difficult and painful times of shepherding a teenager into adulthood. If you have read all the way through this lengthy post and are having similar difficulties please know that you are not alone.
K is out again tonight hanging out with friends and getting something to eat. This is a nightly ritual on Saturdays. Go out with friends and then bring them home. He always asks first, we always say yes. It is better to have them here. In that way we know where they are. We know that they are safe. They are very quiet and seldom any trouble. For this I am thankful – I consider myself lucky. My teenager and his friends prefer my house.
Once again, the weekend is upon us. K and his friends are – as they call it – hanging out. Initially, he said he would be home by eight. Then he sent me a text asking if he could stay out until nine. He asked for the extension before it was time for him to be home and while he still had plenty of time to get home. Under those circumstances I was inclined to say yes. I would have given him permission to stay out until ten when he first left if he had asked for it. So, under the circumstances, it was really easy to say yes to the request. Oh my! What am I going to do if this level of maturity continues? Get a new blog?
I have always assumed that there are certain things children should not know about. Today I struggled with my rules for need to know. A few days ago it came to my attention that one of K’s friends has had some difficulty. This young fellow’s father has done a lot of drinking and is violent with him. His father has discussed the violence with both my wife and me on a couple of occasions. Today I decided that I would discuss this with my son. I was surprised to learn that he did not know anything about the drinking or the violence. We didn’t discuss this for very long, but I made it clear that if his friend ever needed help he should let me know. I assured K that I would do whatever I could to help his friend. I still struggle with the need to know issue.
The mid-year marks are in, and all are in fairly respectable territory. Except, that is, for math – what happened to math? That is his good subject. Is he rebelling against his teacher? Is he compromising math for his father’s sake? Maybe he thinks I need something to worry about and decided it may as well be math for a while. It’s very kind of him to think about me, to help me out even though it might compromise his future. What a kind son I have.
Today, as on many other days, I am tired. I am tired of having to be vigilant all the time so that I can intervene before he does something really foolish, I am tired of having to be so careful about what I say lest I set off a temper tantrum, I am tired of so many things that I get tired just thinking about them. Okay, I am not tired of helping my son. It is like climbing a really high mountain… a mountain that may not have a summit … it simply goes up forever and ever. I am not tired of climbing mountains. I love to climb mountains, but I am tired because I have climbed for a really long time. My muscles are tired, my feet are tired, my back is tired… everything about me is tired That is how I feel. I love my son so I will help him forever if need be, but today I feel like I have climbed for a really long time. Today… I am tired.
There is one thing I really struggle with in raising my teenager and that is trusting - even though all indicators point in that direction – that things are getting better. I have no doubt that the chance of things getting better would improve if I could just trust, but I seem to always look for the train at the end of tunnel. I try to hide my doubts, but I’m sure my son picks up on them. Hopefully, one day – likely long after it should have happened – I will have an epiphany that will take me past the nagging doubts.