It’s summertime again and the outside temperature is soaring nearly as rapidly as my 14-year-old son’s shoe size.
Summertime in the House of the Rising Son means increased hamper overflow and decreased refrigerator contents. And it’s not just my son’s clothing habits and appetite that are changing. That voice!
It’s hard to believe that the sweet little guy who once sounded like a Disney cartoon character now sounds more like my sexy, a.m. radio D.J.. Wasn’t it only yesterday my little boy sang Wheels on the Bus? Now he sings praise about Vipers, Ferraris and other dream “wheels.”
It’s a challenge reading this new teen recipe – how much independence do I allow in relationship to the quantity of stricter guidance? How much understanding can I toss in before it’s perceived as babying?
Sometimes it’s hard to stay out of mood swing range – his, not mine for a change – while still remaining close enough to lend a sympathetic ear if required. He needs me. He needs me not. He needs me. I’m still trying to figure out how to discreetly tell the difference.
Today, following my second mega grocery shop of the week, a group of neighborhood boys, like a pack of stray dogs, has arrived sweaty and panting at our front door. Within minutes the house turns into an Xbox, MySpace and MSN oasis. Music, highlighted by occasional loud guy guffaws and belches, blares from my son’s bedroom and reverberates off the dining room walls.
Medical authorities tell us to pay attention to our skin types in summer. I apparently have what is known as thin skin, since I lose my temper easily when these guys sling sopping wet towels on the bedroom floor, or worse, on my son’s bed. I cringe when they slam the refrigerator door shut but leave kitchen cupboards airing.
To assist other parents of adolescent males this summer, I’ve come up with five basic SON SAFETY rules:
1.) Limit adolescent SON exposure as much as possible especially around 3 p.m. when, experts say, adult energy levels wane and we’re more inclined to say “yes” to requests for a larger allowance or later curfew.
2.) Arm yourself with an adequate SON BLOCK, a prepared speech in which you remind your carefree young stallion of important summer rules: Playing ball in busy parking lots, riding bikes in heavy traffic or flaunting new and improved physiques by way of dunking younger siblings in the pool, all constitute undesirable conduct. Chatting on the phone for an hour without answering the beeping call-waiting in the background is also deemed unacceptable.
3.) Never look directly at the SON and say “If you don’t put your dirty shorts in the hamper right now they won’t get washed,” unless you really mean it. He’s old enough to see through those former, successfully-employed idle threats.
4.) In order to avoid emergency room visits, watch out for dangerously slippery SON SPOTS on the kitchen floor from sticky sports drinks and squished brownie bits.
5.) Avoid prolonged ranting, even when it’s 10 pm and you’ve had one too many rides on the adolescent emotional rollercoaster. Using nasty language is ineffective and could hurt your son psychologically, resulting in PERMANENT SON DAMAGE.
Tomorrow will be much the same as today. I’ll get up early, arm myself with a cup of tea, sneak down the hall and ponder the day’s schedule.
Before I know it the sound of alternative rock music will break this short-lived silence. Although my teenage son is evolving in so many wonderful ways, he hasn’t fully developed the renowned teen habit called “sleeping in.”
When I rise this summer, The Son Also Rises.