Daring Myself To Love My Son.

A year or so ago, I received a book, “The Love Dare.”  It was from my priest who is also my facebook friend.  She had read my angsty posts about Kaleb, met with me and then bought me the book.  The idea is that you are given a daily dare which is aimed at improving the relationship. I’d like to say that I used it as earnestly as I should have.  But what I did do helped and Kaleb and I are in a much better place now. 

The thing is William has stepped up to fill the position of problematic teenager.  And, of course, I have stayed the course as the stubborn mom.  So it’s been rough.  I know that raising teenagers is hard.  I know that it eventually gets easier but until then, yeah, it’s rough. 

William and I go at it and go at it some more.  The problem is, I’m just as stubborn and argumentative as him so once a disagreement starts, it’s really hard to stop it.  Of course, I think he should respect me and just stop talking back.  But, he thinks, for some reason, that I should show him respect! Crazy, right?  haha.  I don’t want to sound too mean.  Of course, he deserves respect.  Everyone does.  But, his misguided belief that he only has to show respect and follow directions if he approves of my decision and feels respected in that situation is not right.  Otherwise, he will just keep arguing.  And, sadly, so will I. 

I’ve recently implemented a system where he gets 15 minutes in his room for every incident of talking back.  I don’t mean every single time, of course; I just mean when the discussion has ended, decision has been made, etc.  It actually is pretty effective.  It only took two times of using this plan. The second was a fun back and forth conversation of : “That’s 15 minutes.”  “I don’t care!” “Ok, that’s 30.”  “Still don’t care!”  Etc etc.  We got to an hour and fifteen minutes before he stopped.  And it’s been better since.  I was so proud of myself for staying calm.  I wish I could say I have stayed calm and collected since then but I can’t.  But, I guess it’s something. 

Well, that helped the behavior but it didn’t particular help our relationship.

So I opened “The Love Dare” again and vowed to try it, to try it and stick with it.  The first dare seemed pretty basic – tell your kids that you love them and then take note of their reactions and jot them down.  I could do that!  Even though, my focus is on William, I figured I’d try it on all of them.  Let’s spread the love! 

Antwan and Lizzie were no big deal.  They reacted exactly like I expected.  Antwan said he loved me, too.  And Lizzie paused and made a face.  I think she stuck her tongue out.  It’s a nervous habit when she doesn’t know what to do.  This applies to silly moments and moments when she doesn’t know how to react to emotional statements like “I love you.”  She may not know how to react but she is secure in my love.  So, it’s all good.  Kaleb was no big deal, either.  He casually responded with an I love you as he was walking down the hall.  After all the turmoil, it’s awesomely ironic that Kaleb often tells me that he loves me; many times he says it first.

So, all that was left was William.  It shouldn’t have been a big deal.  Telling your kid that you love him should be so easy like, I don’t know, putting on a shoe.  Not like my super cool Converse that take too long to put on but look so cool once I do.  More like my ugly flip flops that I wear way too much because they slip on so easily.  But, it’s not.  I wanted it to be easy but it wasn’t.  I hesitated.  I hesitated because it’s hard to be vulnerable with someone who you have been arguing with, including your son.  But, I also hesitated because of this. 

The thing is I read my son’s journal.  I don’t really feel bad about it because I’m only human and if you’re going to leave a page of angry words open where I will see it while I’m innocently gathering your dirty clothes…well, I’m only human.  (Side note, kid.  If you put your clothes in a laundry basket, this would be less likely to occur.  Just saying…) I have never gone searching for a journal, but yeah, if it’s there and it catches my eye and I might look.  This was how I found out that he was mad at me.  Just kidding, that wasn’t new information! 😉  I have told him in the past that I don’t have a problem with him angry writing about me because that’s the point of a journal and I don’t take offense to it but keep it private by putting it away so I don’t see it, even when I don’t mean to.  But, he didn’t put it away and I did see it and I’m a little haunted by it.  Not by the age appropriate dramatic comments that were fairly unflattering, but by the one comment.  “She says she loves me but she doesn’t show it.”

Well, he is right.  I have been so angry and frustrated.  And after going back and forth with him endlessly (at least it feels like it), making him feel loved was not on the top of my to-do list.  I get why it matters but all I could think was that when I did tell him, he was going to think “Yeah, right” or even worse, he might say “Yeah, right.”

So a couple of days passed. 

I was thinking that I would say something eloquent like “I know I haven’t showed it as much lately, but I really do love you and it’s important that you know that.”  Anyone think I went that route?  Nope!

Instead, as he hugged me good night, I casually and a bit awkwardly said “I love you.”  And you know what he said?  Not a darn thing!  I don’t think he even heard me.  In the past, with any of them, if I didn’t get a response, I’d jokingly yell something like “Hey, you! I said I love you!”  But, since I had built this up into a bigger deal than it should have been, I said nothing and just let him go off to bed possibly not knowing that I had said it or even thought it at all.  That’s sad.

So the first dare did not go well but I’m still counting it!  And I’m going to move on to Dare 2.  I’ll try to show him the love a little more in the meantime.  Ok, a lot more, since this morning didn’t go so well. haha.  I’m also going to document the following dares in blog form until things improve or people beg me to stop giving so many play-by-plays of my life.  Whichever comes first. 😉

So, you guys, since William didn’t hear it, I’ll tell you, I love my son!

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