The Dude has a posse. They are a nice bunch of kids. They eat pizza, hang out in the basement and talk about sports, girls, school, girls, politics, and uhm, girls. The Dude does not have his license yet, so his dad and I have to shuttle him around. He is generally appreciative, but every so often, I start to feel like a Limo service, only I don’t get the jaunty hat, or the big tip.
Most of his friends happen to live in an AT&T dead zone, which means he can’t text or call us, particularly when he’s in someone’s basement. Nor can he receive a call from, let’s say, his exhausted parents who want to bring him home already so they can go to bed.
Usually I don’t let him out of my car without a pre-arranged pick up time. Monday didn’t work out that way, so he promised that he’d call me once he knew the plan and we’d agree to a time. He didn’t. Saw that coming, didn’t you?
My husband and I both tried to call him. We tried to text him, but we knew it was futile, so my husband got in the car, drove over and dragged him home.
Needless to say, the Dude wasn’t up for that plan. He stormed into the house after subjecting my husband to the angry teen treatment. I thought he went to the basement. That is his general M.O. My husband filled me in on the details, and that’s when I said it. Actually, what I said was “90% of the time, he’s a sweetheart, but 10% of the time he can be a s&*%head, and I’m sure he gets it from you.” As a rule, it’s not a term I use much–I was trying to get my husband to laugh.
If there is any lesson we’ve tried to impress upon our son, it’s that you do what you say you’re going to do. If you can’t manage that, don’t be surprised when the world doesn’t cooperate with your plan. In general, the world isn’t good about cooperating period, but if you make your intentions clear, you have a better shot at it.
The next morning wasn’t much better. He was still hacked off. He didn’t talk to me the entire drive to cross-country practice, so I turned on the radio and sang. It’s called the school of natural consequences. After two hours of running, he was finally calm enough to lay out our offenses against him, including the fact that my someone ate the last piece of coffee cake. I think that might have made the Dude angrier than having his father storm the castle to bring the young prince home. Finally, he concluded with my crime of calling him a s&*%head.
I told him that actually, I said he was only a s&*%head 10% of the time, and that it was his father’s fault. I apologized and acknowledged that I really shouldn’t have called him a s&*%head, but truth be told, he was acting like one. Next time, I promised, I would stick to saying he was being a jerk. Then I threw my husband under the bus. “And Dad ate the coffee cake.” It didn’t get me out of the doghouse. When we got home, he stomped up the stairs into his room and shut the door.
The Dude is a teen, and I know this is normal. In fact, I feel quite blessed that I only have to deal jerkish behavior 10% of the time, and if I’m being honest, it’s probably more like 5%. Still, I feel if I don’t call him on it, it’s like saying it’s okay. I don’t expect him to be perfect. He just needs to deal with being called a jerk when he’s earned the title. I went to the gym, and when I came back, I was greeted with the smell of baked goods.
“You made another coffee cake!” It looked wonderful, and I told him so.
“You can have a piece,” he said, “but only from this corner, because it doesn’t have as much of the sugar/cinnamon topping.”
The world was at rights again. Almost.
“But Dad doesn’t get any.”
We’re halfway there, but since it’s my half, I’ll take it.
Words by J. B. Everett © 2013
Photograph “Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Struesel” by Emily Carlin © 2008 Creative Commons