Unruly kids grow out of it eventually

By Jim DeBrosse

Pssssst. Come closer, because I'm afraid I'll jinx this if I say it out loud.

I think my 14-year-old son is growing up.

 Get this. He does his homework without being nagged. He does his chores without complaining. He gets up in the morning on his own, dresses, fixes breakfast, packs his things and is out the door by the time I've had my first cup of Chock Full o'Nuts.

Out of curiosity, I went online this week to peek at his grades. I nearly fainted: one B, the rest A's.

And this from the kid who, just last year, finished his homework only under threat of losing access to TV, computer and every electronic innovation since Pac-Man. Who ended the school year with C's, D's and an F. Who in years past has gotten himself suspended for a) flooding the boys' bathroom, b) talking back to teachers and c) using the post-Columbine equivalent of the F word ("Gun!") not once, but twice around other students.

I wish I could say I had something to do with this turnaround, but I haven't a clue to its source.

Maybe the wiring in his adolescent brain suddenly jump-started those areas of the cortex that handle responsibility, delayed gratification, judgment. Maybe he discovered girls -- the good ones who won't have anything to do with slackers and cut-ups. Maybe he hit his head in preseason football.

I'll be danged, but all those other parents who, for years, have been telling me not to worry about my son, that he would grow out of it someday, were right.

But this is deja vu for Mr. Mom. No matter what the phase in my children's development, I have never been able to trust that they'll simply grow out of it.

Take the scatological phase, from about age 8 to 10, when boys think that anything to do with the endpoint and outcome of the digestive process is by, its very nature, uproariously funny.

I think back to all those times when I allowed my son and his friends to ruin a family get-together because I was determined to put a cork on their flatulence jokes. Did my ranting and raving do any good? Of course not, it only gave them the wider audience they thought their humor deserved.

For us helicopter moms and dads, the sad truth is we don't have nearly as much control over our children's path to maturity as we would like to think.

Despite the endless drills in "please" and "thank you," the budget-busting dance and guitar lessons, the forced forays to Sunday church, so much of who they are and what they will become is as mysterious and awe-inspiring as the force that gave them life to begin with.

So take heart. All you parents out there dealing with a defiant, irresponsible, lazy adolescent and fearing the day when he/ she is grown and confined to death row, let me reassure you that all the assurances are true. They will grow out of it.

But not before you, the parent, go completely out of your berzerkin' mind!

DATE: November 16, 2007                                                PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)

 

Copyright, 2007, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

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