Monday, March 15, 2010

Love is a Battlefield

Danger Minefield
Originally uploaded by
Heaven`s Gate (John)

Any attempt on my part to indulge in my grief these past couple of days has been quickly quashed by my 11 year old son. As I may have mention previously, my 11 year old has ADHD, and also suffers from a seasonal affective mood disorder. Life with an 11 year old boy is going to have it's rough days, one way or another. Life with my 11 year old becomes a bit more complicated every year during the winter months. So why, as we are entering the season of the beautifully pollinated blossoms of spring time, is he suddenly acting so manic?

I love my son, he is very sweet, very loving, very intelligent, and very talented (that's if you can tolerate the heavy riffs of the classic rockers played on the electric guitar). The flip side of this beautiful child is that he has a temper unlike any other person under this roof. He doesn't seem to have an off switch like the rest of us. No matter how much trouble he is getting himself into, he fights and fights, meaning he digs himself deeper and deeper, irregardless of the consequences. He has always been this way. And although his temper is quite unpleasant, and he challenges every fiber within me in the patients department, this is who he is.

I'm sure that as he matures, he may learn to better express his anger, and find ways to calm himself down. At times he can surprise me with his ability to do just that. He will come to me and say sorry, and ask if we can start over. I always say yes, we can do that, but I cannot just pretend that you were extremely unpleasant for the past half hour or so. As all parents know, the person who our kids seem to turn against the most is the person that also trust the most. Oh goodie! That would be me.

In these past couple of years my 11 year old became very close to Michael, and much closer to me. He has always been the one who can be very expressive with his love, and also the one who needs the most assurance about how we will manage our emotions during these difficult times. I can't help but feel that he is sorting through his own feelings of grief, and he was also very aware of my level of grief this past week. There were many days that he came down to my bedroom to talk about something, and found me in tears. I know this troubles him. For a child, especially latency age boys, it is difficult for them to feel okay expressing their feelings. At the time of puberty, they begin wrestling with their preconceived notions about gender roles, wondering how a boy/young man is supposed to act. My 11 year old is not there yet, but he wants to be there so badly. He is a small guy, and is watching most of his friends begin puberty, and growing very quickly. It is hard being the small guy.

In the case of both of my sons, they appear to be at a crossroad, yet taking very different turns. My older son, 16 years, has a difficult time when other express their emotions, he turns away not knowing how to respond, yet at this time he is also the most stable right now of the three. He has been doing great in school during this past month. I am trying to help him learn how to be around others, and how to be a bit more comfortable with his, and other's emotions. My younger son has always been more comfortable expressing his emotions, and is usually very appropriate in his response to others' emotions. Yet, he appears to be having more and more problems at school. He is having difficulty containing his emotions, and is becoming very reactive in his responses. I think his emotions are currently feeling too big for him, and as he would say, he just freaks out.

In the past, I thought the most difficult transition from child, to adolescent, to young adult, was my daughter. Her emotional responses to life appeared dramatic to me. But then, I'm a man, who grew up with all brothers. What do I know?

In any case, raising the three of them, especially in these months of mourning, and transition, have caused me to feel like I am constantly walking through a minefield. I find that I am so carefully walking through this rough terrain, trying to keep each afloat, and stable, without setting off another. And just like a room full of babies, you get one crying and soon you will have all of them crying. Now, if my boys happen to get wind of this post, let me be clear, I am not saying that they cry. Oh no, god forbid. I am saying that when one explodes, they all do.

Love is a battlefield.


  1. as a man that has grown up around nothing but women its much more dangerous so best to stay with guys. my sister always had this "ill kill you" look abt her. now i have to download that song!

  2. i taught preschool in the mornings and my afternoons were spent teaching 1st - 6th grade art. i was the scout mom and the lacrosse mom and the horse mom for both my children and their friends, teammates, etc. i was surrounded by children most all the time, both genders. i saw the differences in the genders but could never really put labels on them. they were all just children and life could sometimes be cruel. if i had a hard time, they most certainly were. whenever either gender had deep feelings, were upset, or angry, i would soothe, get them to express themselves, whatever they needed without looking at them as a boy or girl.

    you have the added issues of ADHD etc. that's a whole other umbrella to stand under. i think you are doing a wonderful job. you give your counsel and guidance with love. that's what they really need. restrictions and mentorship, passive punishment when necessary but with explanations, all given with love. you are a blessing to all your children and i am sure that Michael is sending you his new strength.

    btw, your comment of when one explodes, they all do made me remember my daughter's visual for a day in her high school science. she attended an all girls Catholic high school which, i'm sure you know, teaches some pretty heavy classes. she was not allowed to speak but could only use a visual to get across nuclear fission. i went and bought a boatload of mousetraps and ping pong balls to match, with one extra. i know you can see where this is going. she took her lunch in the classroom and i was allowed to help her set it up. we pushed back all the desks back and as her classmates came in, the teacher and i stood at both doors to the classroom passing out their safety goggles. my daughter stood in the corner furtherest from the doors, and then she dropped that one extra ping pong ball.

    i hope that little story gave you a smile.

  3. Family dynamics can be tricky and volatile even at the best of times. Three children all going through their teens, and especially after losing one of their parents? Well, that would be damned hard for any family. My hat is off to you for dealing with your own grieving while continuing to be such an excellent and compassionate parent. I sincerely doubt that there's anyone who could be doing better under similar circumstances. I mean that.