Easter Sunday I had a chance to do Special Time with my 14-year-old. First we went to church, and he did his play in church and I was there. After church, we just did what he wanted. We went out to the marina, and walked the pier. This was what he wanted to do.
I very seldom get a chance to do this kind of thing because my husband is the one who normally does these things with him. So we walked the pier. My son realized that we had fishing poles in the car, and he said he wanted to get his fishing pole. So we had to drive back to town to get some bait. These are things I would normally get frustrated with! I’m the type of person that, if you are going somewhere, you have to have everything you need — I’m not going to take you back and forth! But I didn’t find myself frustrated that day, I was very calm. I was actually enjoying it.
We got back to the pier. I wanted to fish, once I was out there with him. But then came the worm thing! I never handle worms, never put them on the hook. But he was saying, “Now, Mom, you’re going to learn how to put that worm on the hook. You have to do it yourself. That’s the only way you’re going to learn how to do it. I’m not doing it for you!” And I said, “You aren’t?”
So I asked this gentleman, “Could you put this worm on the hook for me?” And my son came up and said, “Sir, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t do that for my Mom, she needs to learn to do it herself.” Can you imagine! And I found myself looking at this man, thinking, “Come on, I’m the parent, here!” But he told me, “No, I won’t.” I was getting ready to go ask another guy there to help me with the worm, when my son and both of these guys started talking in Spanish. My son speaks fluent Spanish. Now both of the men were saying, “No, Mamacita!” and I felt kind of outnumbered! It was amazing to see how my son took charge.
I can’t speak Spanish, but he can, and he and these guys were having a really good time. I asked him, “What are you saying?” and he said, “Well, you don’t really need to know, Mom.” And I thought, “Well, maybe it’s a male-to-male conversation, and I don’t need to know. Just because I’m the Mom, I don’t need to know everything.”
I finally got the worm on the hook, and we sat there, and we fished, and he caught two fish. He was OK with that. I really enjoyed taking that time with him. We got a chance to talk. He got a chance to tell me how he’s really feeling about me and about him growing up and the role I’m playing in his growing up. He made me see that I am too hard on him. He does need some loosening up from me in order to explore life for himself. He’s going to make some mistakes, and I need to allow him to make those mistakes.
That whole day, his dimple was as deep as it gets, he was smiling so big. He felt free — I could tell by the look on his face, he felt at peace. “I’m doing whatever I want to do, and she’s gonna do whatever I say.” But it wasn’t in a bad way. It was like, “I finally have got her to myself, I finally have her attention!” I could tell it felt really good to him, telling Mom what to do, and telling other people what he thought, also.
I’m the type of person who basically takes over with her kids. Not that I intend to boss them around, but I don’t always treat them like they’re human beings. They need some kind of control over their own lives. I was able to see this after that day.
So I started this week, as opposed to making him stay in the house, letting him ride his bike to the San Leandro Marina with his friends. I was on pins and needles the whole time. We had a plan. I told him, “Son, you can go. But you need to check in. Check in every hour, just say ‘I’m OK.’ Even if I’m not home, I want you to leave a message on the answering machine, to tell me how you are. I check those messages.”
He followed that direction. Every hour, he checked in–he was gone for four hours. “Mom, I’m OK — I’m at Round Table Pizza, and then we’re going to go back over to the Marina.” He let me know where he was every hour on the hour. I appreciated that. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I have been worried, thinking, “This kid is going to get out there and go crazy, like boys do!” But he didn’t.
He even stopped by the 99 Cent Store on the way home, and he knows I love little figurines. He bought me a little figurine, a music box. He was doing his thing, but he was thinking about me, too. It made me feel really good that I could trust him. I know I can trust him now, as opposed to not giving him that chance to see if I can trust him. He knows how to follow directions. That was a relief for me–a big step. We got through it OK.
So we’re going to spend a day a week, just me and him. And we’re going to do whatever he wants to do, within reason. He does need me, and I saw this. He has been on me, hugging me and kissing me and all this week. He was the kid who would say, “No kisses!” but all this week, he’s been hugging and clinging to me, and saying, “Mom, I love you, you know.” It’s not often that he says this, and he’s been smiling so big. We’ve been close, you know, but we’re going to be really close.
— a mother in Oakland, CA
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