Monday, August 26, 2013

Chronicles of Raising a Preadolescent, Vol. I

The last three weeks have been hell.  At first I thought it was me, since I really had been in a funk, but the last three weeks have been particularly 'special' and I'm pretty sure I've figured out why.

And it has a name.  What is it, you ask?


Mug shot of personified Mayhem
I love this child.  I do.  I have loved him ever since he had to be dragged out of my womb kicking and screaming.  However, I swear to any deity willing to listen, I totally understand why young male lions are kicked out of the pride and told to go find their own territory because MOM AND DAD AREN'T PUTTING UP WITH IT ANY MORE.  Hear me, boy?  Do ya?  Hm?

Something tells me I'm not getting through.

It might be the smirk.

It's 1:01 p.m. on a Monday.  This is a school day.  The boy has completed his work in precisely three subjects - grammar, spelling, and art - and even those weren't completed without waspishness and peevishness and snarkiness and all those other -nesses that encompass raising a child who is quite sure that A) the universe revolves around him, B) he knows more than anyone ever alive ever knew, and C) he must have the last word in any and all conversations.

For example, this morning, he tried to argue that newspapers weren't descriptive.  We weren't talking about newspapers, and he was supposed to have been working on his own work, but he felt the need to interject one of his Ultimate Hypotheses into M2's grammar lesson.  "I think article adjectives are called that because they're the only adjectives used in newspaper articles, because newspapers aren't very descriptive."

I can't invent this stuff.  Thankfully a quick reading of some articles from well-known moments in history - the Civil War, 9/11, the Kennedy assassination - showed the boy the error of his statement.  Did he actually acknowledge that I still might know more than him?  Of course not.  He put his head down on his desk and thoroughly ignored me.  Because if it can't see you, you can't see it.  Mantra of all Ostrich Children.

Then there was this:  I was giving him his weekly spelling pretest.  We do this so that if he knows most of or all of the words on the list, we don't waste time on a useless lesson.  One of the words was 'animosity.'  He spelled it incorrectly - a-n-a-m-o-c-i-t-y.  Not a big deal; I put a dot by it and moved on.  When it came time for him to learn the correct spelling, I pointed out that he'd gotten close and gave him props for that.  Was that enough?  Hardly.  "It sounded like you were saying anAmosity, Mom, not anImosity.  So that wasn't my fault."

Argh.  Animosity.  Yes.  How do parents survive this?  Any tips?  I'm going to need the village for this one.


Anonymous said...

Ah, pre-teens/pre-adolescents...

What is it with them being snarky or sarcastic? Is it in the pre-teen handbook they are given at birth?

I guess my only "tip" is to be consistent. When my son gets that way, I just say, "You're being rude and disrespectful." Then I sort of... disengage until he's ready to behave appropriately.

Takes many reminders - sometimes all day long. Other times, I go a long time without having to say a thing.

Hope you find what works for you and M1. *Hugs* from someone who is always asking the same questions. One of these days we'll get together (we're only about, what - 5-8 hours away from each other?), have a few drinks, and wonder about this parenting thing. :)

Sarah said...

I think it must be. In one of the parenting books I have, it says to disengage and pick your battles as much as possible. M2 came to me the other day and said, "Mom, when M1 says certain things, why don't you react?" So I'm trying. We MUST get together. I'm often in SE KS to visit family and it wouldn't be much more of a drive for me to head on up and crash for a night or two. I know you're REALLY busy with work and house and everything, though, so no rush. Those kids will be preteens/teens for a long time to come!

skrink said...

It's just uncanny. This whole post could be a page from our life. I shared with dh and he said yep, A, B & C. Fits dd perfectly!! It's exhausting.

I'm trying to pick my battles as well. Some days I've got that down, and some days it's just beyond me. The thing is, she's looking for the battle - seems to feed off the energy. Does M1 push for the reaction too?

Sarah said...

YES, he does! And it feels like the more I try to disengage, the more he pushes for a reaction, and then I feel like if I let it slide, I'm being a bad parent, so I react and he reacts even MORE, so I'm damned either way. I wish I knew what the answer was. You're right. It's completely exhausting.

skrink said...

Yep, that sounds about right. Dd has been going to some extremes to get me to respond, but yes, when I do she ramps up exponentially... Damned either way sums it up nicely. Our new therapist has us reading Parent Talk by Chick Moorman. We'll see how it goes.

Sarah said...

Let me know if it helps. I'm always up for good, helpful books.

Beth said...

Hang in there. I have nothing useful - since I'm not *there* yet I can only imagine what I've got in store waiting for me. I'm sure it's going to be special. Very, very special.