I was given a very reasonable request the other day during a family outing: could I please stop nagging my son ? This is not the first time I’ve received this request in my son’s relatively short life. Nor, I’m sure, will it be the last. My response ? Sure, when he stops doing stupid stuff. A the answer to that was something along the lines of “not bloody likely”, you can see how this day went. Most days go like this day. My role as the nag is firmly established.
I don’t particularly relish this role but it is born as a preventative measure against my son’s fervent desire to do stupid stuff every minute of every day. Or so it seems to me. And yes, deep down in my heart of hearts, I recognize that kids are hard wired to do stupid stuff. My mother is still finding out about my misspent youth of doing stupid stuff. As they enter the teen years, they do even more spectacularly stupid stuff. I think the highlight of stupidity for me was riding a dirt bike up a tree and through a fence with the bike landing on top of me. I seem to recall hitting the ground shouting “I’m ok, I’m ok” which of course always makes stupid stuff seem so much less stupid.
When you add Aspergers and ADD to the wonderfully hormonal teenage years, you seem to see a higher ratio of stupid to sensible or at the very least reasonable actions. Now this is my first teenage boy, my brother was a fairly low-key teenage boy and I pray to God quite frequently that my husband’s teenage genes will have skipped this generation. He was a bit of a bad-ass and took stupid stuff to a whole new level. This type of parenting requires much patience. Seriously. Me. Given a child who needs lots of patience ? I’m not sure who’s idea of a cosmic joke this particular parenting arrangement was, but I’m not laughing. At least not in a haha way. More of a shrill, hysterical hyena-like cackle that gives clear indication of when Momma is going over the edge.
My son does have some very amazing, wonderful bits that I’m sure were thrown in there to prevent my setting him adrift on a life-raft. But these are chronically overshadowed by my having to watch his every move for his latest spectacle of stupid. I am listening for when he breaks something, usually not belonging to him. I am listening for when he is inadvertently extremely rude or inappropriate to complete strangers. With his fixation on little kids and babies (not in a creepy way but in an oh cute way) I have to watch that he’s not trying to tell some parent how to raise their kid and why they are doing a bad job by not watching that Little Suzy just walked 10 feet away unnoticed. Now he’s right – but he’s also 14. Lovely that he’s concerned and aware but slightly disturbing to the parent on the receiving end of the can of whoop-ass my son just opened.
Moments likes these and many, many, many others are just another notch on the bedpost of life for me with my son. The whole bed is beginning to resemble a bit of a wobbly toothpick for the number of times I’ve had to explain his behaviour, get him to apologize or turn it in to a social story so that hopefully, even with his short term memory deficit, he will somehow remember next time not to do that. Given the state of my bed, you can probably surmise quite accurately how well that dream is being lived. Not living that dream at all I’m afraid. Though he can remember the oddest details from his toddlerhood which assures me it did indeed happen and he wasn’t always 14 and being nagged to within an inch of his life. Then it was just called parenting.
When you are the parent of a special needs child, you deal with a lot of extra crap. Every day. From school, from home, from activities – there is always something. And this is on top of the normal stupid stuff kids do just because they are kids and learning how, hopefully, not to be stupid some day. My daughter gets the odd nag but usually she just gets caught in the crossfire of my son’s nagging. A civilian casualty if you will. But I also haven’t had to force the school to suspend her twice for stupid stuff that other kids would have been suspended for but that they felt Thomas didn’t “understand” what he was doing. Right. That’s it. Let him get away with poor behaviour choices ’cause THAT’S going to help him overcome the stupids. I guess some people don’t outgrow this particular teenage phase. Perhaps they weren’t nagged enough ?
To wrap it up, my son is 14 going on 10 so the stupid phase will also probably be extended in our family. Aspergers usually has quite a delay in social development so while my son looks like a strapping string bean of 14, inside his melon has yet to catch up. During this unpredictable, sometimes irrational, sometimes inspirational but mostly unbelievably frustrating time I will try to balance the nagging with love. I will try to remember that he’s not being stupid on purpose and probably doesn’t enjoy it either. I will try to remember that hysterical laughter won’t do me as much good as belly laughing. I will try to remember that I was once a stupid, hormonal teenager who grew up and mostly outgrew the stupids. Heck – my mom still nags me and I’m definitely not 14 anymore.