Why Can’t We Be Friends?

12 Mar

In honor of #tbt (that’s Throw-Back Thursday) we are bringing back some of our (and your!) favorite pieces, many of them updated with new pics! Enjoy!

For me, the only thing worse than my love/hate relationship with my 13 year old son, is talking to the occasional mom who maintains that she doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with her teenager because between them it is all fine, all the time… Is that even possible?

Here’s how most of my very recent conversations have started with other parents:

TCC: “How’s your (13-year old) daughter?

Most any dad: “She’s a bitch.

TCC: “I saw your son at school yesterday – he was so sweet”

Most any mom: “He actually talked to you? Like moved his lips and everything? I haven’t heard his voice in months.”

TCC: “Is your daughter enjoying being in the play? Can’t wait to see it!”

Most any mom: “I’m not sure if she likes it or not –I’m not fluent in her grunting language and that’s all I get.”

And here was a recent conversation between my sister and me last weekend, when Ben was not exactly talking to me:

TCC: “If anything happens to me, please tell Ben I understand.”

Susan: “Understand what?”

TCC: “That underneath all that hostility and snarkiness, I get that he really loves me.”

Susan: “What is wrong with you and what on earth are you talking about?”

TCC: ”Well, I don’t want him ridden with guilt if I die tomorrow and we were in a(nother) fight. So just tell him I get it, okay?”

Susan :”Whatever. And by the way, you are so dramatic and so strange.” (Sisterly eye roll, here.)

But I do get it, I swear I do. I’ve read the books and been to the lectures. Heck, I’ve been the lecturer!! I love working with adolescents. I actually get a kick out of them and more importantly, I kind of get them.

That is, I get all of them in the whole entire universe except for one – my own.

I guess, instead of asking him why we can’t be friends, it would serve me better to just ask it straight out instead of breaking into the song by War (from the 70’s) “Why Can’t We Be Friends”. The more it irritates him, the more likely I am to break into another song when he screams at me to stop (Stop in the Name of Love by the Supremes works well here)and maybe even calls me a freak (Le Freak  by Chic – also from the 70’s – is a great one for this purpose). It is at this point my antics will have resulted in us going our own ways and not talking for a few hours. Better that way, right?

But Ben is just as likely to push my buttons and ruffle my feathers, as I do his – and he does so on purpose and repeatedly.

“Mom, I’m kind of hungry”, he tells me kind of nicely.

“What would you like and I’ll make it for you.?” We’re good so far, unless he answers with the response that makes my blood boil (not sure why, but it just does)

“Food.”

Ahhhhhh – that’s the one he knows for sure will piss me off and yet he repeats it every single day.

So then I get angry (justifiably, don’t you agree? Please agree…) and then he repeats his other mantra “You’re always mad at me. Why do you get so mad at me? You hate me, don’t you? I know you do – you’re always mad at me.”

Is there any answer that could possibly get us out of this mess?

So, I go on singing answers that I know will make him want to reach out and hurt me and he keeps pushing my buttons in just the right way to make the conflict between his quest for autonomy and his need to be my little kid in clear view.

And then it’s time for bed and he comes up to me, hugs me hard, tells me he loves me and I’m the best mom in the world…and just when I think all is right with our world, he tells me he’s hungry. I hesitantly ask what he’d like as a bedtime snack. His answer? Yep, you got it.

He’s thirteen….only four or five years of this to go.

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2 Responses to “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

  1. Jen Mies January 7, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    I love this. So honest and so accurate. Have you tried asking him “What kind of food would you like? I’ll make it for you.”
    I am not a mom, but I so clearly remember being that 13 yr old!! I was the perfect kid for everyone else (and usually even my mom). Oh, but my poor Dad. I was nasty and I didn’t know why! I remember being at an 8th grade class retreat before our Catholic confirmation and going to this really beautiful chapel and each of us was given some personal space and quiet time to read a letter that our parents had written us. And I felt awful- tears welling up, not for the sweet words written in my Mom’s familiar handwriting, but because I didn’t see my Dad’s writing, and I knew there was no way my Dad would have chimed in on those nice things my mom chose to write me. ugh.
    But it gets better 🙂 I eventually stopped being so horrible to him. And now of course I really enjoy him, and some of his jokes, and I am a decent human being to him 🙂 … Except when he calls me and tells me to turn my outside hose water off so the pipes don’t freeze. Or asks why I didn’t call him for help when I needed to change a lightbulb. Or you guessed it– we he calls and sings lyrics from songs written before I was born.
    Keep up the good work, TCC! And every other parent of an adolescent!!

  2. Tammy January 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    We have the same 13 year old!!! 😉 Perhaps we could get them together and produce an awesome one act play – so much drama! We should pow-wow soon, Terri and share supportive parenting strategies – it could be a long 4-5 years. Love you and your article!

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