Posted by Naomi on Mar 7, 2013 in Motherhood
, Teen life
Yesterday I collected my daughter from school and we took off to our nearest mega-complex to spend her birthday cash.
Most of it was spent in a store that when I was her age was one of my go to stores.
Her clothing choices? Many of them echo the ones I made at around the same age. Everything old is new again. When we entered the song playing was Gloria with Laura Branigan singing out. It could have been 1982 for all the clothing and music.
She stands shoulder to shoulder with me. She asks for advice on items some of the time, but mostly she knows her own mind. Her own sense of style shining through.
A year ago I would encourage her to approach shop assistants. Now they approach her. Her answers and comments to them clear and confident. Yes, I like that, no thanks, that’s not my style. A year ago the shop assistants spoke to me, and I had to direct them to their customer. Now? Now they know my daughter is the customer, and the one the attention should be paid to.
My green eyed girl also shops without me. Just her and friends. Choosing items, making wish lists, mapping out their way. It is the way of life. A small step here, a small one there. Her world getting larger.
While some may cling to the toddler years, the early childhood days, I am not one to. Each day I see more of the adult to come shining through her sea green eyes. She is becoming her own person. Making her own choices, finder her own way.
It is the way of life. Not always easy, but she keeps on going around the sun, and for now, I am happy to be her shadow.
Posted by Naomi on Dec 11, 2012 in Motherhood
, Teen life
I thought I had a good grasp on this teenage parenting gig. I know I haven’t officially been a teen parent all that long; I know there is a long way to go, but I still felt like I knew what was what.
Then the past few days came by. Two parts great, one part WHAT THE?
When I asked The Blue Eyed Boy to walk the dog with his sister he flat out refused. Not in a yeah, in a minute Mum, way. More a look at my face there is no way in hell I am walking the d0g today, way. A way that made me realise we have stepped up a notch in the you can’t make me game. I told him if he did not go I’d remove his iPad and iPhone for the day. He did not budge.
I had a choice, go up against him, yell, fight, say things I would later regret, and still not win or walk away. Walk away it was.
The dog got a walk, with the Green Eyed Girl and myself. He lost the use of his precious iDevices for the day and the night.
When we returned home and walked up to the back door it was locked. We checked the sunroom doors. Locked. I didn’t know whether I should be pissed off, or out and out proud of him for having the guts to lock us out.
He let us in quickly enough. He looked embarrassed. I told him I was two parts pissed off and one part proud. In truth it was the other way round.
Yesterday was his first day of school holidays. The Green Eyed Girl and I still have this and next week. (While Hubby is at home, he has work to do, and is for the most part, down in this office). So, for the first time I left him a note with a household task to do. It was day one of his break after a long, hard year at school, so I went easy on him with just one task.
When we returned home the dish washer was on and he had just showered. Winning. Some housework got done and he spent most of the day online gaming. I’ll ease him into longer lists.
Then, just as I was beginning to unwind on the back veranda, I received a text. From my son. While he was in his bedroom.
Ah, it really has begun. This teenage thing.
I know there will be days when I am three part pissed off. Others when I’ll be three parts proud, and some when it’s a 1.5 split each way.
But at least, at the end of the day, if it all goes wrong, I know he’ll text me from the bedroom and ask what’s for tea.
Posted by Naomi on Sep 28, 2012 in Family
, Teen life
Week one of school holidays is all but gone. So far I have asked, cajoled, bribed, nagged and yelled at a number of teen boys to get of the X-Box and go outside
for fucksake approximately one trillion times.
I know I am not alone in this.
I consider myself a pretty laid back parent. I’m happy for gaming to happen. Even a few hours at a time. I hear the conversation as they play, know that there is connection. Talking to each other side by side with no eye contact. The preferred method of communication for any male I have ever known.
I will argue that actually, this generation of kids can concentrate for extremely long lengths of time. Don’t give me any of that this generation have a short attention span mumbo jumbo. It just is not true. They want things in ADSL 2 speed, but once they have it they know how to concentrate for hours on end.
Throngs of articles tell of the virtues of lead by example. I run. Hubby rock climbs and mountain bikes. We sit out in the sun. Walk the dog. Have freinds over for meals and late night conversations and drinks. If the adage lead by example worked our son would be a running, climbing, dog walking, sun sitting machine.
I thought perhaps Hubby and I were missing something. That is was just us and our kids. Turns out it’s universal.
I have managed to get the boy child and his friends off the couch and out of doors a few times. Once for nerf wars. Once to walk the dog. Once with all the coins I could scrounge and the suggestion of a walk to the village lolly shop.
I am more than a little torn about the whole thing. Gaming is part of how Hubby makes a living. Well, making them, he hardly has the time to actually play them. Without games we may not be able to purchase that free range pork we like so much.
Games and consoles are part of the growing up deal in 2012. As are tablets, phones and apps. Unavoidable if you want children to be up to date at school. I’m talking in class here. Not peer pressure.
The argument to not have these things in the home can be made. For some people that is the choice. But for me it is not. Fitting in is a huge part of a teen’s psyche. Huge. And I for one want my children to be able to talk about and use the social currency of their peers.
For me that currency was Countdown, roller skates and the body-wave perm. For my children it’s instant messaging, games, iDevices. I have no problem with that. Move with the times. Learn, adapt or be left behind. Fitting in is important for children. For their wellbeing.
The day long screen time battle of wills between parent and child is exhausting. Does a movie instead of game play count as a win for the kids, or the parents? What if the weather is foul? What if, what if, what if. On and on ad infinitum.
In a house where we talk openly and honestly about anything; where our children know they can come to us with any problem, anytime, I have already seen my son shutdown and internalise. I know the statistics. I understand about mental health. I also know that when my son communcates with his friends it is via instant message, face time, while playing games. Do I really want all this to stop? Do I want my son to shut down and not talk to anyone? If I take away his game time, his iPad and phone, say they are only to be used for school work am I taking away his tool of communication? His link to his world? His way of reaching out?
I don’t want that. I want him to always be able to reach out. It doesn’t have to be me. Or his father. It can be anyone he trusts. As long as it is someone.
So I wonder, is it all that bad that on occasion, in his downtime, he spends a day in a darkened room side by side with his friends? Gaming. Talking. Laughing. Connecting.
Is it really necessary that every single time he has a mate over I cajole them into outside time? Or should I sometimes, just let them be?
Posted by Naomi on Jun 7, 2012 in Family
, Teen life
A lot is happening in my part of the world. Work, home, social life, family. It’s all good, but it’s all busy.
I like to have a work life balance. Ridiculous, over used phrase that it is. It was only a matter of time before another member of the family caught the lurgie. Sorry about that Blue Eyed Boy. And with band rehearsal, soccer training, and homework, homework, homework we have been a house on track to being very out of balance.
So, lurgie filled kid and all, I was grateful when Tuesday rolled around and I knew we had a bit of family time booked in.
Yes, I have become someone who books in time. In pencil. On a calendar. I know.
On what was surely the coldest day ever in Melbourne, with one child tired from all the stuff mum, so much stuff I have to do; and one tired from all the homework and a lurgie; with a Hubby with a deadline looming, caution was thrown to the icy wind and we headed to the city to be part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Education Week.
In my head, we were one of those well rounded families, filing into the town hall ready to be carried away on a sea of music. In reality, we left it too late to leave, battled traffic, had an e-Tag that kept beeping that something was wrong, parked three car parks and a city block away from where we had to go. Oh, and I didn’t have a single umbrella in the car. Not a one. And I call myself a Melbourner.
We arrived at the Town Hall, I retrieved the tickets and we walked in. Bickering.
I asked the kids where they wanted to sit, and was rewarded with an I dunno and an OMG I DON’T KNOW. I replied
in kind with a whispered oh for fuck sake by ignoring them. A lovely usher, with a knowing smile, pointed out some great seating options, we ignored them all, with much angsty teen eye rolling and found a whole row to ourselves towards the back. Give me strength, I thought at about that time, and wondered why I considered it such a good idea to come out as a family.
We sat in silence. I looked at other families sitting in front of us. Saw a brother pull a face at a sister, saw a father whisper yell at the face puller, realised we were far from alone in our family ways and listened as the orchestra tuned.
We were there, silence and all for Meet The Music: Scandal! As part of the MSO Education Week, children, schools and families of all ages are treated to a range of interactive concerts. The concert we chose was aimed at children years 7 to 12.
As presenter Paul Rissmann began weaving tales of scandal, I wondered if my two ratbags would stop being all teen like for long enough to enjoy the concert. I needn’t have worried. Together with conductor Benjamin Northey and the musicians, all four of us managed to forget our lack of balance and be enveloped in the magic that only a live orchestra can bring. Add to that the amazing solo performance from Nicholas Russoniello on saxophone and in the space of fifty minutes a family were transformed to one cohesive unit again.
I call that a job well done MSO. A job well done. Music, it really does soothe the savage beast. There are a number of performances as part of Education Week, with tickets still available, as well as more throughout the year. They have a school program that can also be accessed by families, BYO sulky ratbag teens, excited pre-schoolers or any child in between.
Disclaimer: I received a family pass to Meet The Music:Scandal! In exchange I provided teenagers, a swear-mouthed mum and a tired, on deadline dad, who despite themselves all had a fantastic time.
Posted by Naomi on Jun 5, 2012 in Motherhood
, Teen life
When yet another night ends with yells and frustrations, when a morning is all foot stomping and emotions, I like to remind myself of the good days. That being mum to a teen has it’s really good moments as well as it’s bad ones. That staying calm is hard to do, and negotiation is the key. Even when I don’t remember either, I can at least know that sometimes, just sometimes, I get it right.
Last Friday The Blue Eyed Boy entered a new part life. It’s something most of us remember doing, and if the conversations I had on twitter are anything to go by, remember fondly. The Friday night hang out.
In my time we had a mall, paved, small and in the winter months cold. My boy has an indoor shopping complex. It could fit the mall of my youth inside many times over.
Here we stand, family, on the edge of the wide world. Already he is stepping off on his own. Mates taking the place of Hubby and I. Just as it should be. If you had asked me twelve months ago if I’d let a child of mine catch a bus after school with his mates to y’know just walk around, I am not sure my answer would have been as easy and laid back as my response was last week.
A really big part of negotiating all things teen for me is trust. Mine of him, him of me. I want him to have good teen years. I want him to hang out with mates, go places, do things. I want to know where he is, who he’s with and when he’s coming home. I don’t want him to think he can’t ask to go places. I don’t want him to think he has to make up excuses or lies. So, for now he knows to ask. He knows for the most part Hubby and I will say yes, though sometimes the answer will be no.
I love that he has a phone. We are in contact. Easy, simple, a text away contact. This is also why he has a myki card, so he always has bus or train fare home. It is why I tell him, you can always ask, I will probably say you can go; and why when he doesn’t answer a text I can reply with one reminding him how much he loves his xbox and how much he’d hate for it to be banned for a week. It’s a win, win. He responds, I know where he is, and he’s not embarrassed in front of mates.
Letting go. Realising I am not in control.
As someone who generally likes to have all my ducks in a row, this has been the hard part. I am not in control. On friday night, if he was with me he’d have ordered sushi and a fruit smoothie. With his mates he had a burger and coke. Out of my control. What gets me though, is I’m actually OK with that. He gets decent food at home. With mates, hanging out, he gets what ever the money in his wallet budgets for.
I know it’s early days on the teen front. I know there will be (there are) days when I want to get off the parenting bus. I know there are days my son would like me to as well. The thing is, for now I am bursting a little with pride for him and his new found independence. His ease with hanging out, his willingness to accept when it’s time to come home and the shine in his eye from time, just, y’know, walking around.
This is life, bold and new. This is life, his life and I’m just along for the ride and the joy of watching from the sidelines.