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"I don't care"

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I had a little stomach clenching moment today when Rhubarb said this to me. I actually felt quite wounded.

“Can you just come and chat to me while Daddy and Poss are at her parent teacher interview, my pelvis is bad, it will help to have you out here with me and the small children?” I asked him.

“I don’t want to talk to you and I don’t care.”

Well, that sums it all up really doesn’t it. In the end he agreed to stay in the room as long as I didn’t try to speak to him. The Teenage Angst and Apathy Monster has definitely  taken up residence in my son’s brain. The TAAM feels the need to make a smart-arsed comment each time I speak to him or tell him something he needs to do. The TAAM is messy and a touch smelly. The TAAM has absolutely no empathy or compassion. The TAAM cares not what happens to others.

He is not yet a TAAM host all the time but he is like it more and more. We had friends over for an impromptu meal on Sunday night. Ordinarily he would hang around and play with the small children, chat to the adults, socialise. He was there and his usual pleasant, funny self during dinner but spent the rest of the time in his room or basically wherever the rest of us were not.

The TAAM is really taking over now and I don’t want it to. I have been smugly applauding my own fabulous parenting ability up to this point. Our friends and family have always commented on what great kids we have. Nice polite, funny, clever children. Even non-child friends have enjoyed spending time with our children. I have been aware that the TAAM would take over at some point but I think there was a part of me that hoped that Rhubarb would be somewhat immune to it.

I feel to my core that Poss, having traditionally been the placid, sweet-natured young girl, will be an absolute horror of a teenager. We see shades of it now and I can just feel it in my bones. I thought maybe Rhubarb would stay in this good place that we’ve finally found. He was a moody and sensitive kid early on. He took the divorce (and his subsequent neglect by FW) hard but he was five and it was only natural. The last few years he has been wonderful. We have been close. I have really liked him.

I don’t like the TAAM. He is a bastard.

Rhubarb does team rowing with the school. He trains twice a week. It is an expensive and demanding sport but I am so pleased that he is doing something. I spent my teenage years telling my PE teacher I had period cramps at every lesson, I loathed physical activity in any form (*ahem* well, not any form I guess or the whole pregnant at 17 thing might not have happened).

I am thrilled that he is sporty  but I expect him to take his responsibilities to his sport seriously. He missed a team meeting at school today. He came home, told Beefcake this and then asked if he could skip training tomorrow because he wants to visit a fast-food chain with some of his mates. My automatic response was ‘no’ because I want him to honour his commitments and I don’t think he’s old enough to go hanging around who knows where in the afternoon. He’s a baby, maybe when he’s 17 or so. Beefcake says he is old enough and it doesn’t matter if he misses one training session as the year 8’s are barely getting a look-in at the moment (they don’t compete in regattas until next year).

What do you think, dear internets? It is a bit of a moot point really because I told him he couldn’t go after the TAAM was particularly rude to me this afternoon but still, I’d like to know. 13’s too little to be out on your own. right?


14 responses

  1. My gut instinct is like yours – if you make a commitment you need to follow through with it. That said, I read a post recently, can’t remember who wrote it (hell it could have been you or someone equally intelligent), with a similar thread. Anyway, the child in question didn’t want to go to a school sporting event, made a decent case of why they didn’t need to go to the parents. The parents supported the decision, provided the child told the teacher, in person to explain their reasons. Would that type of thing work?
    My boy is only 7 and has already started to display signs of TAAM.

    del’s last blog post… Priorities

    • Thank you for the affirmation. We probably could but in the end he has been quite accepting of the fact that he is not allowed to go. Oh scary. 7 is young to be showing the signs!

  2. TOTALLY! It’s not just about whether HE is responsible…. it’s about all the other kids that might be “hanging out” with him. Also, I think parental instinct is the key in these situations.

    Also-also (!), if you let him off training once, it will be harder to enforce his attendance in the future (imho).

    This scares the beheebies out of me. Toto is 12. That means that the TAAM could hit any time. Aauuurrrggghhh!

    I can recommend a good book for this stuff though. It’s called “Before your teenagers drive you crazy, read this!” by Nigel Latta. It’s very well written.. with lots of practical advice for changing your parenting style to handle the TAAM.

    My heart crumples for you. ((((((( Ali )))))))

    • Thanks Fe. I will look into that book. It is just so out of my control, he’s possessed! I have waved your response at Beefcake – he needs to learn that I am always right!

  3. The TAAM sounds scary and has made me put my fingers in my ear and say lalala because I don’t want to think my kids will be possessed by the bastard demon in a few years time. I like Del’s advice. I also think going to a fast-food outlet sounds like a revolting idea but I remember (vaguely) that I would have thought it fun when I was a teenager…

    Stomper Girl’s last blog post… Small Things

    • I know, it is scary. It’s just a hang on for the ride and hope we get through it kind of thing.Heh – yeah I think I remember wanting to do this too but I can’t imagine why now!

  4. I think you’re totally right. He needs to learn how to stick with it!

    HeatherPride’s last blog post… T-Rex Traumatization: A Parent’s How-To Guide

  5. i think you should stick to your guns. the girl is 12 and we don’t let her “hang” out yet. she’s welcome to go to a friends house or have them come to ours, but i won’t drop her off somewhere and leave her there. and i also think you’re right about making him stick to his commitment w/ rowing.

    • Yeah, he is welcome to have friends over – we will let them hang out here and keep out of their way a bit but he is too young to be out on his own. He put on the outraged voice at breakfast this morning when we were talking though and said –
      “I can see why I can’t go now but MUUUUUM – 16 or 17???? All of my friends are allowed to!!!!”
      Something tells me I might have to relent before then!

  6. I am so absolutely not qualified to answer, I am so glad Fe has already chimed in – she is my touchstone for raising a happy boy ;)

    The thing that would worry me most, is that if you say no, and he goes anyway, you are in a worse position than before. And if you say yes, you set a precedent of allowing him to roam the streets with a gang of hoodlums, and he’ll end up in prison.

    Of course he won’t end up in prison, that is just my fevered imagination putting Inigo in the place of Rhubarb, and FREAKING OUT.

    You’ve made all sorts of great parenting decisions already (he sounds like a lovely kid so far), I am confident you’ll handle this one really well too.

    Hugs xoxo

    Lara’s last blog post… Lunch with Tia Nani*

    • Ha! I know, he’ll end up going off the rails and leading a life of crime! Now that it’s not such an abstract and far off future I am less frightened that this might happen but still – not taking any chances. Thank goodness for Fe!

  7. I think that if he’s angry at you about it – oh well. Your job is to be his parent and love him and make sure he’s safe. Not make sure he gets his own way. My sister’s stepson is 16 and is hardly ever home, I know they’ve had a hard time of it since he came to live with him, but I think it’s okay to put down some rules. I wouldn’t let him go that young. And I would make him take his commitments seriously – the Princess sometimes wants to skip dancing, but she made the decision to go, and I PAID for her to do it. Unless she’s too ill, she’s gonna do it.

    Stick to your guns, mom, you’re doing great. ANd I don’t like the sound of that TAAM at ALL!!!

    badness jones’s last blog post… Die Happy.

  8. Agree with the others over honouring a commitment and that if he has a good reason that the rules may be relaxed, but it’s not like he never gets to see his friends or socialise is it?

    Tilly is nine and although she is quite happy to stay with us there are girls her age who come to call for her and want her to go out totally unsupervised. I refuse point blank. It absolutely terrifies me.

    I think I started going out alone when I was fourteen/fifteen, but as I never wanted to hang out in shopping malls etc it wasn’t so bad.

    Things got more wild when I was sixteen but I was a little more savvy then. I think drip feeding them independence is a better way to do it. It worked for me. I did some bloody stupid things but I’m still alive!

    Sorry that was very long. I totally feel for you.

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