My Outward Bound Quote of the Day....
"The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion."
And that's my life with teens. We begin discussing a subject. Maybe school, social event, computer, day trips or any random thing...and life is good. It might go on for quite a few minutes. Or not.
If T.J. and Grace are involved during the same discussion with Biff and I, somehow one comments or critiques (read criticizes, Hrumpffs at the other's comment or downright is rude about the comment that the other is making. It could be about the school bus timing in the morning, the state of affairs in their lives or choosing soup for lunch.
One always has a comment. Just one comment can crash a lovely discussion. Life is funny. Teenagers see the world through their own eyes, how things affect them.The economy and business is about them...Dad, do you think if you get more business we could get our own laptops. So and so has his own laptop. Are we poor?
O.K. that's when the light bulb in my head flashes...news flash....my instantaneous response might be something like this, "Are you kidding? Do you know how lucky you are to have a dad that loves his job, works so hard to take care of our family....do you know how lucky you are when there are families ......."
BUT I bite my tongue...hopefully in time....before I sound like the old," You finish that dinner....there are people in ______________(country of choice, country in most recently in the news) starving to death!
Do you realize how lucky you are to have food on your plate.....?"
Thankfully right then and there, if I'm lucky, I realize that they are teenagers and their frontal lobe part of their brain is not fully formed and has more to fill in before I begin accusing them of being self absorbed and blah, blah, blah. THANKFULLY! Because in the moment that something, anything big in life, totally turns into ....But how does that affect me?
I think we all do a bit of that and THEN empathy or sympathy or some other feeling kicks in. That must be the frontal lobe kicking in! I have to give that frontal lobe in the forefront(no pun intended) of my own brain so that I can stop, think and speak. Now, that I've learned about that frontal lobe, I can attribute most of the teen troubles to that. Talking back....they can barely edit themselves....they blurt. Maybe, if we're all lucky they realize what they've said. Sometimes, our sweet loving children hear our words and don't listen or they hear our words and totally think we are saying something else. I sometimes think that when I speak, my words change as they cross some sort of teenage sound barrier....or in some cases the big bang theory!
Please understand, I am talking about our children....who we love deeply and with all of our hearts.....we know that deep down to their core, these are very loving children with only goodness and light. EXCEPT for that frontal lobe.....that's where all of our confusion and misunderstandings and misinterpretations and mishaps and upset and drama start to roll.....and fast.
In an instant, a girl in our house can be singing her heart out, happy as Liza Minnelli belting out New York, New York.....and then, I ask that same happy, song-filled soul to empty the dishwasher.....and life turns upside down. If I don't stop to remember that this sweet girl has no fully developed frontal lobe.......because of the way I might word my request.......it's a great possibility that my lovely Grace will get hysterical.....because I have offended her in some way or have suggested by my tone that she is not responsible, smart, caring or kind. Huh? I think I just reminded her to empty the dishwasher?
In an instant, a girl in our house can be singing her heart out, happy as Liza Minnelli belting out NewYork, New York.....and then, I ask that same happy, song-filled soul to empty the dishwasher.....and life turns upside down. If I don't stop to remember that this sweet girl has no fully developed frontal lobe.......because of the way I might word my request.......it's a great possibility that my lovely Grace will get hysterical.....because I have offended her in some way or have suggested by my tone that she is not responsible, smart, caring or kind. Huh? I think I just reminded her to empty the dishwasher?
I can have a discussion with T.J. about his teacher and his homework....ask when his project is due and how much of the work has been completed, just for the sake of time management....not a priority for our 14 year old.....and before the conversation has gone beyond the name of the teacher or the due date and my son truly believes that I have suggested that he is lazy or less than an intelligent student.
Even yesterday , that poor undeveloped frontal lobe seemed to translate my words, in another language, by the time our sweet boy heard my words....I asked if his teacher had commented on his paper that had been returned. His frontal lobe concocted a whole 'nother story! He said, "Mom, you sound like you're calling me an idiot."....that is really what that boy, my flesh and blood heard me say.
And so, when I hear my children say something less than genius or less than charming....I know it's that silly frontal lobe talking. The fact is that I really love our children and I love who they are as people. I do have to give them time....to grow into themselves and their frontal lobes.
Maybe in a few years or five, when we have a discussion they will be able to push through that lobe thingy and understand my words. It's pretty tricky growing up these teens! Oh boy....I'm so grateful that I love them! I'm also grateful that I like them. When I don't...it's just 'cuz of that darn lobe....we're waiting....patiently for our kids to grow into kids that can continue a discussion about walking the dogs without an argument!
As soon as I write this....I think...wow! we have good kids. If someone reads this who doesn't know how wonderful they are......yet, they are teens so if they have any exposure to teens....they will know? They may even be nodding their heads as they read my words.They will know that this is an honest mother telling the account of days with teens. Will they no how much I love these kids. Nope.
I didn't even remember how I have flashbacks sometimes.....of me, at 14 and at 15.....hmmmmm. I hate to admit this...but I was less than delightful during those years! Did I ever mention that my mom had white hair? Coincidence? In the moment of the argument/interruption/conversation.....I bite my tongue and remember that we are still growing these sensitive, self conscious, insecure, awkward, uncomfortable teens into fine human beings....it may take awhile.