Therapy–My son should start saving now

My son was bemoaning my lack of sympathy for something or other.  The fact that I can’t remember what it was demonstrates just how inconsequential whatever he was griping about was.  I’m sure it was a hypothetical. My son loves hypotheticals, which after endless strings of “what ifs” I don’t address anymore.  Something he can discuss in therapy.

Oh, that’s right, it was “Let’s say, someone did x. Are they a hypocrite?”  At this point, I know it is not a hypothetical, but an actual, and ask him to lay out the situation.  My response, as I recall was that the guy was being a jerk, but not a hypocrite.  After much discussion of what constitutes hypocrisy, my son continued to argue the point, so I told him that I was unwilling to spend additional time on the topic, but would be happy to discuss anything else. He wasn’t pleased.  I told him to add it to the list of things he could hash out in therapy.

He looked at me, puzzled. “What do you mean?”

I was kind of surprised.  I started saving up for therapy when I was twelve.  I knew I would need years to recover.

“Therapy is when you go see a doctor and talk about how your parents screwed up your life.”  At least that’s what I did for two years.

He was nonplussed.  “People do that? Pay money to complain about their parents?  I can do that for free.  That’s what texting is for.”  We both laugh, any residual tension drained from the conversation.

“When you were my age, did you think your parents were screwing up your life?”

My snort said  “every ‘effin day”, so I didn’t have to.

“Wow,” my son replied.  “I don’t ever think that.”

Pour me a glass of wine, my work is done here.

But before I pat myself on the back however, I think about how different parenting is today than when I was a kid.  We have  a different set of expectations, a different understanding.  Sometimes I love my son so much, I think my heart can’t stand it.  That it should collapse in on itself, unable to sustain the squeezing in my chest when I see him laugh, or make an expression that looks so like my husband, or my own father.  And I know. I know that my mother feels the same way about each and every one of us.

It’s easier for her to show it now.  There was an enormous chasm between parents and children when I was his age.  The differences in culture and technology created a divide so great, it really was difficult to cross.  Value sets were turned on their heads, norms and expectations.  Like most teens, we thought we invented it all, but there’s far less terrain for my son and I to cross in order to reach each other.

So instead, I wink at my son and say “You’re only 15.  There’s still time, and I’m very inventive.”

“I better start keeping a list, so I don’t forget anything. ” He plops himself in my lap like a puppy.  The only thing he has in common with a puppy is the smell.  I hug him anyway and kiss the top of his head.

“Starting with that.  Do you have to do that?”  He rubs his hair as if I’ve spit on my hands to straighten it out.

“Yes.”  I reply.  “Yes I do.”  I’ll start the therapy fund today.  It will be worth every penny.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Studio Tdes

8 comments on “Therapy–My son should start saving now

  1. Lara Britt says:

    Ha! Every time I had to take the expedient way of solving an issue with one of my daughters’ teachers, counselors, significant non-familial adult personage. I would whisper in her ear. “Just smile; there’s plenty of time for therapy for this when you’re older.”

  2. hiyacynthia says:

    Therapy can be wonderful if it’s provided by a compatible therapist and if it’s utilized when the person is ready to beat back the demons of life. I remember my mother once sending me to therapy. I wasn’t ready to give in to emotions and deal with the demons just then, so I basically just said, “I’m fine,” and exited as quickly as possible. Years later, when the floodgates finally broke, I spent 6 months in intense therapy and it was awesome! My daughter had therapy as well at a very young age, due to abandonment complications/issues from her birth mother. She didn’t respond very well to therapy, but then again, she wasn’t in a frame of mind to receive it well, so that makes a huge difference.

    My parents didn’t screw me up, I did and other people did. But I did come to realize how my parents’ actions and behaviors molded and shaped me as a person, and that was a neat journey to go through. Realization and light-bulb moments are so much fun! Love them! Now, my husband, on the other hand, is against therapy. Strange how people’s perceptions can be so different, isn’t it? It’s good to know that your son is venting to his friends through texting. Many guys just hold it in and I think that’s detrimental. Still, start the fund just in case, ha ha!

    • I only thought my parents screwed me up. Now I understand that every parent does what they think is best at the time. My son and I have a great relationship. It’s not perfect, by any means, but we laugh together as well as talk about the tough stuff, so neither of us is a stranger to each other.

  3. Phyllis Diller Stewart says:

    This is so wonderful. It’s a long, painful, first husband-filled story, but I didn’t have that relationship with my son at fourteen. Fortunately, time and communication have healed all that.

    Love the son/puppy comparison. They’re the same in so many ways, including being very needy even though they appear to be happy bundles of energy much of the time. My job in an Emergency Department tells me otherwise. Such sad, sad teens …

    But I digress. Good job, Mom!

    • We are both very lucky. My son is a gift. He taught me how to be happy, and I want to make sure I return the favor. I love that we laugh together, with an underpinning of mutual respect. And I’ll take the hugs, even when he smells. I prefer it to Axe.

  4. Lol! I just told Sweet Pea that she and I need to go to therapy. She said why? I said because you don’t hate me, you like spending time with me, you still hug and kiss me in public, and you don’t mind me being around your friends! You’re 16….THAT’S NOT NORMAL!!

  5. Lynne Favreau says:

    What a great post! It is a sort of generation gap that created a distance between us and our parents, besides the deeply troubling personality flaws.

    I’m amazed when they tell me how important I am to them, how much they appreciate they way they’ve been raised, and spend time with me on purpose! I’m so in awe of them for being the terrific kids they are, I swear I had nothing to do with it. But we do joke about my older sister having to put a quarter in the therapy jar. She moved in with us when they were two, and six months old and spent a great amount of time bumping up against and thwarting my rules. I guess everyone deserves that relative who spoils you.

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