The glow of Monday’s inaugural rock concert is gone and sadly the last two days in our home have been somewhat contentious.  They told me this day would come – the day when my sweet first born child would hit puberty and turn surly and sour for a few years, hopefully emerging into something resembling a human being before he leaves for college. It wasn’t as if I didn’t believe them.  I just chose not to think too much about it. 

Wait to worry.

My first boss lived by this mantra and I have embraced it as best as I can both professionally and personally. Because there is no shortage of tragedies big and small to worry about when you are a parent.  If you wait as long as possible to start wringing your hands, you save yourself a ton of anguish because 90 percent of the concerns work themselves out.  But I think the Age of Discontent is here to stay.  And I’m worried.

I’m worried that our family dynamic is in for seismic shift.  Noah feels misunderstood.  I feel underappreciated.  Dave feels irrelevant.  Chase feels ignored.  A single bad spell can wreak havoc on everyone.  Noah gets his horns twisted, utters a few obnoxious thoughts and Dave is usually the first to fall – and the last to recover.  Chase sees Noah’s behavior as an opportunity to grow a halo, offering advice to anyone who will listen about how to correct the situation to which we all respond in unison, NO ONE ASKED YOU!  At that point, I LOSE it and begin screaming obscenities. The Von Trapp family, we are not.  At least not anymore.

I’m worried that I have raised my child to be disrespectful, spoiled, and lazy.  How much of his behavior can be chalked up to teen angst and what is ingrained in his heart and mind?  I take comfort in watching him interact with other human beings in a kind way, but wonder why he saves none of the love or effort for his own flesh and blood.   Last night he complained that he only got one Wii game for Hanukah this year.  My retort that there are kids out there who cant afford a Wii fell on deaf ears.   He has no concept of what it is like to seriously go without, and I think that is a serious deficiency. 

I’m worried that I am ill equipped to adjust my parenting navigation system properly.  How do I lay down the law now without turning my home into the set of The Hurt Locker?   Is it too late to make changes or have I already ruined him?  Or am I right on track but just don’t know it because dry land is still too far away?

I’m worried I won’t have the energy to make it through this time.  I have always said that the first ten years of a child’s life are physically exhausting; the next ten years are emotionally exhausting.  I would be better off if it were the other way around.  I think I need an emotional trainer, someone who will help me build me stamina and strength to uphold my convictions, teach me the skills necessary to endure the next ten years, and promise me that if I do these things, it will all be okay.  I think they call this trainer a ”shrinky dink”.  I’m now accepting referrals.

The same boss from above also shared with me one other gem when I was pregnant with Noah.  In response to one of my expressions of insecurity about being a good parent he said, “You know what, Emily?  You have to try really hard to f@$% your kids up.  You are going to be fine.”

I hope he’s right.  I have no choice but to do my best and wait… to worry.

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