9/26/08

The Punk on the Court

Ryan and I took the boys and went to play tennis again yesterday. I don't know why we don't learn from our mistakes. We really should just give up pretending we can play like we did in high school. We can't. We actually totally stink.

But that isn't my point. I'm not even that sure what my point is, except I might secretly want reassurance that I'll have really really nice teenage boys one day. So if you can tell me that I will, please do so in the comments. I want a guarantee though. It's nice that it will be in writing because it's on a computer and in the comments. Forever. All Nice Boy Guarantees are appreciated more than words can say. Thank you for that. Oh sorry, where was I?

Oh yeah. On the court next to us was a young man (teen) who I will refer to as Sassafrass. He was playing tennis (quite well) with his father, who I will call Mr. Hides His Face in Shame.

You see, Sassafrass embodied every detail of what you would imagine to be a punk kid. Not as in purple-mohawk-punk. But as in, constant-back-talking-foul-mouthed-disrespecting
-sassing-cutting-his-dad-down-at-every-chance-scowling-arrogant punk. That kind.

We tried to "play" awhile after the arrival of Sassafrass and Mr. Hides His Face in Shame, but I couldn't take it. If I had to hear "UGH, you SUCK, I HATE playing with you, you're the worst!!" one more time, Psycho Heather may have reared her lashing tongue while grabbing the scrawny little brat around the neck and shaking him. That would be silly and crazy and I prefer to keep silly and crazy at bay, at least in front of the tots. Well wait. I take that back. I do silly stuff in front of the tots constantly, but I try to avoid crazy. Anyway, I digress...

My point?

This kid? He was oozing mean and nasty. So I looked at Ryan and said we needed to cut this short because Psycho Heather was fast approaching. He gathered our children and bee-lined for the exit faster than he had moved the whole time. Because he's met Psycho Heather and he's scared of her.

On our way home, I started to freak out about the future and how I'm pretty sure we'll have teens one day. And even with our stellar parenting skills, our kids might sound like Sassafrass one day. Please God, don't let it be so! (that's a real prayer. I mean that. A lot.)

I'm happy to say that I stopped myself from taking the worries too far. After all, our kids are ages 3 and 1. Why worry now? (even though I'm secretly sort of still worried)

So we moved on. By playing a new game we made up on our walk home. I walked ahead of Ryan and the boys and had to act out everything they called out. While walking and even sometimes while running. Yes, I did this in public. Streets are public. In constant motion, I was a car, a grocery shopper, a tornado, a shark, a swimmer fleeing a shark, an apple picker, a ladder climber, and many more. People may have seen this. But that's okay. I'd rather be Mrs. Fool of Herself than Mrs. Hides Her Face in Shame any day.

I was left with this. Should I feel sorry for this father? Because I think I really do.

See? Random? Really no point or conclusions or epiphanies here. I just needed to tell this story and now I'll go live in today. Thank you for wasting your time reading something that has no point. At least I don't think it does. I'm not sure.

24 clicked right here to comment:

Kristina P. said...

Just think, when your boys become punk-a teenagers, they can come and see me for some intervention! See, not all bad.

Peanut said...

Ooh, the teenage years. They scare me a bit. If I'm really going to screw up sometime, I'm pretty sure it'll be then.

Excuse me while I start praying now!

MidnightCafe said...

Aw, Heather. I really think the dad should have hid his face in shame. He needs some boundaries. Seriously. I don't care who the person is, they have no right to be so disrespectful. My guess? This teen is following the example set by someone, and his parents are too scared to intervene. The thing is, teens WANT some direction. They want to find the boundaries the same way preschoolers want to find the boundaries. It makes them feel safe to know the boundaries are there.

Your boys will be fine. They'll have quirks and bad days and moody moments. But they'll really be fine. You'll cry and want to pull your hair out sometimes...but how is that different from now? ;) Just love them and teach them to love and respect others. It'll be ok.

*MARY* said...

What are you talking about? This was the pointiest post I've ever read. Don't worry I just called the psychic hotline, madam zaquexia told me your boys will be fine.

a Tonggu Momma said...

When I used to teach pre-k and kindergarten, I saw SO MANY parents who didn't want to discipline their children because it was "such a small thing" or "I want them to like me" or "I'm tired." I always nodded my head, then said, "do you want to tackle this problem now, when he's five, or do you want to wait until he's fifteen?"

I don't ever judge parents by their child's actions, but I do judge parents by their REACTIONS to their child's actions. This father did nothing, so it sounds like this dad waited... perhaps he's still waiting.

You aren't waiting. Your boys will be fine. There will be ATTITUDE, of course, but you'll be fine.

BaronessBlack said...

Y'know, I'm usually more comfortable with the purple mowhawk type punks. I live in hope that my children, when they become teenagers, will dress outrageously and behave well, rather than the other way round!

happygeek said...

Ya know, (and this is only slightly on topic) I have often found that the purple mohawk types surprise me. Constantly. They are the ones who hold the door open for me and the double stroller at the mall, the ones who smile at my boys and even let me cut in front of them at the grocery store (because you have kids ma-am).
So, (finally a point) let them look a little scary and they will turn out fine. (At least that is my theory. Sticking to it!)

LisAway said...

Oh my. I'm almost positive I would have said something about respect to that kid. I feel awful for the poor father who, like your other commenters have said, hasn't known how to provide his son with boundaries. And beyond that, I think it's some sort of pollution. If I hear teens cussing up a storm loudly when my kids are around, that's kind of against the rules. Same with the teenage boy your talking about. If it had been the other way around it would be considered verbal abuse and someone would probably have done something about it.

Slightly off topic, yesterday there was a guy near the open air market who dropped a can out the window of his van onto the parking lot before driving away (it landed almost right at our feet). I was there with my kids and I gave him a surprised look, maybe tinged with some disapproval (dumb, I know) and I think he almost got out of his van to beat me up (this was a big gypsy guy who I remembered smiling at a half an hour earlier, so I thought we were okay). While his elderly mother watched from the passenger seat. I'm not sure if he was simulating putting a gun to his head by pointing at his temple like that or what, but he didn't stop staring me down until he had turned the corner (I wasn't looking at him anymore, of course, but I could FEEL it, and plus he was driving away really slowly).

Sorry for the mile long comment. You are a very fun, conscientious mother, and I'm sure your kids will pick up on that and love and respect you and others even when they're teenagers!

charrette said...

Just to add a ray of hope and a shred of perspective: Our oldest son is now seventeen, and while he hasn't managed to escape many of the pitfalls of teenagerdom (thanks, I made that up) he is a WONDERFUL kid. In fact, the other day Brillig referred to him as "pure gold". And he is. He's cooperative, affectionate, respectful (most of the time) and SO much fun to be around. I almost enjoy him more now than I did when he was little. Almost. We have a great relationship.

So, while I can't give you an iron-clad guarantee, I'm willing to bet money that based on the kind of fun-loving, conscientious mother you are now, your kids are bound to turn out great...and come out loving you in the process!

Abra said...

I started to write an answer to this, but it turned into a post so, I'm posting it instead :)

I'm sure if you instill good characteristics in your boys, be just fine!

Kazzy said...

Remember the teen years can also be the best time ever because if you have prepared well you can at least have decent conversations with your kids. You start to see them becoming adults. Your relationship alters in a terrific way. We have had some struggles, and each child is different, but we have thoroughly enjoyed our current 18 yr-old. Look forward to it! All will be well.http://kazzysponderings.blogspot.com/2008/09/lucky-me.html

Kelline said...

I think children will talk to their parents how ever the parent will allow their child to talk to them.

minnesotamom said...

I feel sorry for him and I also don't... Part of me thinks that if he had done his job, he wouldn't be listening to the backtalk of a sassy teen. And if it was me, I wouldn't have stood for one second of it, much less an entire match-worth.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it." I just heard a sermon on Focus on the Family last night that said this isn't a guarantee, but a general principle. We obey, nonetheless, and teach our children to love, fear and follow the Lord, and we HOPE that they will stay on the path.

I don't know that this mama would have been able to not go crazy on that kid. I have a bit of my mother in me...

Kimberly said...

Umm...I can't help thinking the dad can't possibly be innocent in this. I think teenage rebellion is unavoidable with some kids, but we choose what we let them get away with, you know? We teach by example, we teach by the rules we set and how (or if) we enforce them.

Parents these days are scared to parent it seems. Being firm seems the exception rather than the rule.

Alas, no guarantees, but definitely hope.

Mike said...

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about being a parent and not your child's friend. I think it all starts at home and with parents who recognize that...

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

The Dad should not be hiding his face in shame but getting busy with hanging that boy upside down with his head on an ant hill. Okay, okay, sorry --- I'm not a violent parent. I don't even believe in spanking. But I am a firm believer in being my kids' PARENT not their buddy. Some parents' want so hard to be their child's best friend they abdicate their real roles which is to teach and to rear. My teen-agers are NOT perfect by all means, and I am not perfect but I often hear people say what a pleasure my kids are which tells me that in all the imperfections that abound in our home, some things are being done right. But then I am not done with the teen-age years yet so in reality the jury is still out. As a Mom of teen-age kids, I can't give you a guarantee, but I bet your kids are going to turn out just fine for the simple reason that you are there for them, eager to teach them right and wrong, with love and while guided by correct principles.

The Three 22nds said...

I found this story interesting. Why was the Dad there playing tennis with the disrespectful son?
Is he trying to reestablish a broken relationship? Does he feel guilty- does he not live in the kid's home and this was a visitation situation? Did the son want to go play, or did the Dad? It seems to me that them doing something together must be a semi new occurance.

Now I am all curious!

Heather of the EO said...

The three 22nds-
I hadn't even thought of that. I know it was definitely awkward. I've wondered if the father was not reacting to the son's rudity (nice word) because he didn't want to deal in front of other people, or was he just a push-over? But I hadn't even thought of all the other things that could come into play. I don't know.

But I do feel sorry for him, no matter what. Even if the way his son was treating him was a result of his own inconsistency, I can relate to making mistakes and having disastrous results in parenting. Some things are just harder lessons learned...
ugh.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I'm pretty sure Psycho Kelly was close to coming out just reading that diatribe.

My husband doesn't thank you.

(This was one of the funniest things I read all day. I'm still giggling.)

Baby Tunnel Exodus said...

I hate to sound holier than thou because my kids have sassed too, but really, the dad just took it?? We have a house rule that you can't get in trouble for things you don't know are wrong; everyone gets a warning shot. But really? Once you know it's wrong, it's WRONG, and we teach our children there are consequences for their actions. Even on the court. I feel sorry for sassafrass because he has no boundaries. Daddy needs to step it up. Oooh, and I have a psychotic side too, it's not pretty either, lol. I tagged you for 7 Quirky Things on my blog! Blessings, Whitney

Heidi Ashworth said...

I think that as long as you are worried, your okay. It's when parents throw up their hands and stop worrying that things get to be a problem. Oh, and if it gets to that, make sure your kids know you aren't afraid of them, even if you are (especially if you are). I used to have to throw some pretty big tantrums with the Big Guy. He could throw some pretty big ones, too (bipolar and all) but as long as I was better at it, peace was always restored. I know, I'm not proud of it . . .

Jillene said...

I worry about teenage years all of the time. My oldest will hit teenagedome in 4 years--scary.

As for the father--in a way I feel sorry for him--just a little. I think that if you let your kids talk to you like that it's your own fault. He probably needs to take that foul-mouthed houligan on over to Kristina! I am sure she'll know what to do with him!

Kristen said...

Don't you think it starts now? My 3-year-old already tries to give me attitude. But as long as the kids know that Psycho Mom will rear her ugly head at the first hint of sass, then I think some of the teenage stuff can be nipped in the bud.

I affirm Psycho Heather. She will serve you well.

radioactive girl said...

My kids are 10, 8, 8, and 4 and I am just as terrified every time I see a kid like you described. I think and hope I am teaching them better, but I guess you never know until you know, right?

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