Sunday, November 8, 2009
Posted by Maggie May Labels: Babies To Teenagers
What you do for me...what I do for you...the emotions can be mysterious -
but his hand on my leg as we jolt in Blue Thunder, body pressed on me, heavy and long, as we watch a movie on the couch, his steady gaze as I hold a difficult conversation on the phone... these are not mysteries but small devotions.
Things are very hard right now for Dakota. He prefers, now that he's older, that I don't talk about the specifics of any troubles he has, so I won't. He is struggling- he is fifteen, and if you have raised teenagers, or remember is very well, you know that fifteen is perhaps the most volatile age, especially for boys, and especially when combined with hardships or pain. Mr. Curry is not Dakota's biological father, as you long time readers know, I became pregnant with Dakota at nineteen and met Mr. Curry in my third month of pregnancy- we were to become best friends until our falling in love, years later. Dakota grew up at first with Mr. Curry as an Uncle figure, and now as a Father figure, and Mr. Curry has not failed to rise to the very demanding occasion.
Dakota is one of those children who has a clearly obvious special something- a kid who adults always raise their eyebrows at when he begins talking, because he is so acutely observant, so well articulated, so emotionally intelligent, so passionate and so very warm. He loves people, and they love him. Mr. Curry and I love our bright shining boy and are using our emotional energies to push ourselves daily to grow as parents, as people. And yet.
Watching my boy go through these furies, at times directed only at me, is very painful. We are incredibly close. This makes it even more turbulent for him to grow up and separate himself as a person from me, because to find the ME and YOU he must be very clear about what I am that he is not, what I do that he will not, what I think that he does not. The separation is not unlike birth. The little boy is leaving, and in his leaving there is a transition that is complicated by other factors as well. It's a natural birth, just like his actual birthing was. I grunted, screamed and pushed him into this world with a Pitocin drip on my arm ( creating more pain to induce contractions ) and no pain killers. The contractions were mind blowingly painful. And then he was put onto my chest, and his squalling purplish face rooted around my breasts, and I felt the peace of a purposeful life descend on me with a happiness that has never left.
In one of the books I have been reading on guiding teenagers, the author was discussing the idea that teenage boys, if given 'enough' space, (not too much, nor too little) will be much quieter in their struggles, while teenage girls, more typically articulate and having had more emotional exchanges in the family, will be louder, scream more, fight more. This is not true for our very verbal, emotionally expressive and communicative family. Dakota can argue his emotions and opinions to the bitter end, and does. Often. That is all I will say about that! It is up to Mr. Curry and I to be non-reactive. Hahahahaha!!! I'm sorry. It's just that the enormity and difficulty of our jobs as parents has temporarily rendered me a bit mental. This is where marriage steps in and absorbs impact. I listen to Dakota's angry words, I reply without screaming back, I stay calm and repeat myself, (amazing how similar parenting an angry teen is to parenting an angry toddler) I try not to get in the ridiculous pattern of trying to convince my teen that our rules make sense, without shutting him down, and then it's over, and Dakota is in his room, or out with Grandma, and I am sobbing into Mr. Curry's chest as he holds me and says every right thing any woman, any mother could ever want to hear. ' He knows you love him, ' he says. ' That is why he can fight so hard, he knows we are unconditional, he's not afraid of us, that makes him louder and ruder at times, but he is doing OK, he's working through it, he comes and talks to you late at night and snuggles, he goes to school, he's not on drugs, he's just a struggling kid. You are doing a great job. '
And when I'm not, when I start to crack under the pressure and my voice begins to rise or my left eye begins to twitch, Mr. Curry guides me like the dance partner he is into the kitchen and whispers in my ear, ' Let me get this one. ' And I do.