Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fight or Flight

“I took your advice, Mom, and didn’t do anything to get sent to the principal’s office,” my son announced after his first day of fourth grade.

He smirked then added, “But I can’t promise the same thing tomorrow.”

There was a time I would have rolled my eyes and snorted at such a ridiculous sounding statement. My son? Cause trouble? Puh-leeze.

Mother Teresa was more likely to get sent to the principal’s office. And that’s AFTER she died and was canonized for sainthood.

But now I’m a little nervous. I fear those days of enjoying the life with a well-behaved child are slipping away from me. Those blessed times when he slowly walked up, guilty look upon his face, ready to bare his soul for whatever perceived misdeed he had performed, prepared to face the consequences before he’d even been caught.

I used to joke that the only time the kid was a tattle-tale was on himself.

How sweet.

But those times?
They. Are. Gone.

Just like the days when the “120 pounds” hilariously listed as the weight on my driver’s license was an accurate measurement.

I haven’t updated the info since I was 25. And until the Department of Motor Vehicles threatens me at knifepoint to change it, it’ll stay that way.

But I digress.

I remember those early days of new parenthood.

Bringing home our little bundle of joy with absolutely no idea how to actually care for him.
We’d never changed a diaper.

Never prepared a bottle.

Had no clue how to feed, burp, clothe or bathe him.

We’d had a better chance of discovering cold fusion before learning the in’s and out’s of swaddling.

I’m still amazed we didn’t break him.

But, as all parents do - even the stupid ones like us - we quickly learned about onesies and bottles and binkies and gas.

And teething. And the great advice someone offered, which involved rubbing blackberry-flavored rum on the little guy’s mouth in order to bring a little relief from the pain of tender gums.

And...uh...yeah, we gave our baby rum because you’re desperate to try anything at that point.
Did it work? Not a chance it hell.

So, yes, there were some bumps along the way, but we did OK.

He can walk, talk, read and ride a bike. 

No back talk. No fights. No school suspensions. He hasn’t flunked out of school nor set anything on fire.

He hasn’t even joined a biker gang.

So, yeah, we were feeling pretty darn confident that our young son was on the path to becoming Mr. Model Citizen.

Then the little bugger turned 9.

Not 13.
Not 17.
Not 21.

I wasn’t prepared for the you-know-what to hit the fan at 9.

It was like one day I was speaking English: “Go do your homework.”

And he did. He did his homework.

Then he turned 9, and apparently forgot every English-speaking word known to man. He’s either ignoring me or his Fight or Flight Response has kicked in.

And, for the record, he is VERY partial to the Fight option.

Suddenly anything from “set the table” to “put on your shoes” to “is the sky blue?” involves a full-on discussion worthy of a Geneva Convention.

For instance, his school instituted a new dress code for days the students attend Mass. Nothing too elaborate, just clothing choices that better reflect a church atmosphere.

Geesh. He fought like a rabid coyote that first day he had to wear a polo shirt and a pair of khakis to school.

Kid acted like I told him to wear a tutu with a tiara.

It’s gonna be a loooooong year.

But that’s OK. I still have that bottle of blackberry run around here somewhere.

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