On Sunday evening Noah and I got into a spat.  And it was a doozie – lasting several hours.  I usually leave the Battle of Wills Steel Cage Extravaganzas for Dave.  He is much better at holding a grudge than I am.  And to be frank, going 15 rounds with a 12 year old when you know who is ultimately going to prevail is a tad boring.  While the kid could probably inflict some serious pain on me, he still does what I say when I say it loud enough.  Where is the challenge in that?

But admittedly, it is getting tougher to decide who is the winner of these bouts.

It began with a dispute over homework and Noah’s insistence to procrastinate until the last possible minute to get started.  Or.. it started with my relentless nagging when he clearly had everything under control.  Advantage:  Son.  I do nag.  It’s a core competency of mine.

From there it escalated when I refused to let him bid on a video game on eBay when he still owes his brother $40.  It was the deal of a lifetime and Chase didn’t need the money right away anyway.  Advantage:  Mom.  The kid has to learn to pay his debts.  No two ways about it.

His surly mood made him unfit to join us for dinner at the local Indian restaurant so we left him at home which resulted in a much more pleasant dining experience but I felt sad.  That is the first time we actually kicked him off the family island.   He had no desire whatsoever to sit a table with his arch nemeses for any length of time and was happy to stay home.  Advantage:  Son.  He knew a family dinner wasn’t a good idea.  I am often a little slow in this realization.

Upon returning home, I decided to check the online student/parent portal where I saw that he had failed to turn in a few math homework assignments which brought his current grade level to a letter that rhymes with “Peff”.   He was already planning to fix this and it was early in the marking period so it WILL ALL be fine.  Advantage: Mom  He got caught not doing his assignments.  A valuable lesson in the consequences of slacking.

Throughout the rest of the evening he continued to suggest that I was a candidate for the worst mother of the year award because I make too big a deal out of things AND I won’t let him buy an online video game.  He is repeatedly sent to his room where he remains for 3 minute intervals, only to emerge once again to make his case as to why he is right and I am wrong.   I never listen to him.    Advantage:  None.  He isn’t capable of letting it go and accepting his punishment.  I am apparently not capable of making him.

I go to bed feeling lousy, wondering if I am on the road to becoming one of those mothers for whom nobody can understand why her kids are so f%&*ed up when she seems perfectly normal.  He goes to bed feeling lousy because he is now worried about his math grade (a little) … and he really wants that video game.   Advantage:  None

Throughout the smack down, Dave is uncharacteristically disengaged.  I think he was enjoying my role as the  bad cop for a change.   And Chase did a pretty good job hiding his smirk most of the night.  I know that was hard for him.  Advantage:  Dad and Little Brother  They had ring side seats to an evening’s worth of free entertainment — all in 3D.  

It took until last night for both Noah and me to come around.   I offered a back scratch (all men are helpless against the healing power of my nails) and helped him with math homework;  he offered to perform chores around the house this week to pay his brother back and have enough left over to bid on the video game.  After 24 hours of  The Cold War, I think we were both ready to watch all that bad water flow under the bridge and be friends again.   It felt good.   A grudge is a heavy thing to carry around — especially when it is so easily lifted.

I know my efforts to teach Noah the importance of respect and responsibility have only just begun.  Luckily this time, we both got schooled in a bonus virtue to boot.

Forgiveness.   Advantage:  All

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