Monday, August 9, 2010

Family Feud

Tomorrow is our big FAMILY FEUD audition (!!!) - wish us luck!
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Tonight was another in what seems like a summer of weekly blow ups with my 16 year old son.

(signal beginning of theme song in my playlist to the right)

Announcer: Welcome to...the family feud!

Announcer: On tonight's show we have Dan, in real time. 51 year old father of three. Dan resides in sunny San Diego, after giving his children the ultimate ultimatum, pack your bags and move with me or hit the streets kids. I don't care if San Francisco is all you know. I don't care if I always said I would never move from the Bay Area. Dan can be a miserable son of a bitch when life doesn't go as planned. You want to see what he is like after losing the love of his life, his partner in parenting, and his once in a lifetime legal husband. What you see is an excellent micro manager. A compulsively controlling, and somewhat rigid, parent who is said to have "ruined my life!" according to one son Dante.

Announcer: On our other side we have the sweet, and quite lazy, 16 year old slacker, oh, I mean even tempered, and ever so helpful and dutiful son. According to Dante, he is very tired, and doesn't want to do anything. Well, any thing other than play Playstation, drink diet sodas, and eat plenty of chips and ice cream. Up until February of this year, Dante resided in a home for adolescent boys with emotional problems. Dante had made enough progress, and success during his home visits, that the staff and his dad, decided he was ready to move home. That was five months ago. And, five months prior to that, Dante lost his step father to brain cancer. Since then Dante has wondered what the hell is wrong with his dad.

Announcer: Are you ready!? Let's start the family feud!

Host: Come on over. Dan, Dante, we surveyed 100 people, top 5 answers on the board, here's your question. Hands next to your buzzers. What is a legitimate expectation of a 16 year old teenager?


Dan: To do what his father tells him.

(Applause, applause.)

Host: To do what his father tells him. And, the board says 25 percent!

(Applause, applause)

Dante: To stay out of his father's way while playing Playstation all day?

Host: To stay out of his father's way while playing Playstation all day? And the board says, 10 percent.

(Applause, applause.)

Dante: That's not fair! That is bull crap!

Dan: Dante, don't talk like that!

Dante: What do you want from me!

Dan: To do what I tell you to do, and to tell the truth!

Dante: I did do what you wanted me to do.

Dan: But you only did half of it, then you lied about the rest. Plus I missed a class tonight so I could pick you up rather than having you take the train home.

Dante: What are you so angry about. Your nuts. This is so not fair dude!

Dan: Life is not fair. If you want fair, do what I say, and stop lying about everything else.

Dante: I did do what you wanted me to do. This is bull crap! I hate my life! You have ruined my life! Fuck you!

Dan: Oh, you think that saying things like that is going to help you out? I don't think so.

Dante: Well, I'm not doing what you ask. I'm going to bed, because this is bull crap.

Dan: Well, go to bed. I will still have your Playstation tomorrow morning.! What the fuck just happened?

Host: Well folks, it looks like we don't have a winner here. Stay tuned to tomorrow morning's show when Dante will go upstairs to his father's room to apologize, then without even taking a breath, will ask...Can I have my Playstation back?

Oh how I love parenting the kids on my own again. I am trying to stop being so rigid, and try to be a little more empathetic, but I just get more angry when they don't follow my instructions. Of course I know, and you know, that anger is always just below the surface with me. Most of the time I am able to control it. Yet, I am also aware that I can't possibly do all this on my own, while grieving the loss of Michael, without letting my anger get the best of me. It should be no wonder then why Dante can get so angry that he ends up just self-sabotaging.

I don't like this. I don't like it at all. Why can't every thing go back to normal? Michael was the calm voice around the house. He is what calmed me. Or excited me. He was is sadly missed. And now, I must get some sleep so I can graciously accepts some one's apology tomorrow.

Announcer: That's it for today folks. Join us tomorrow here on the Family Feud!


  1. Of course I know, and you know, that anger is always just below the surface with me. Most of the time I am able to control it. Yet, I am also aware that I can't possibly do all this on my own, while grieving the loss of Michael, without letting my anger get the best of me.

    Well, that's the hardest part in all of this. Situations that spark anger are very hard to deal with when you're already so angry underneath. I was very much in that state last summer around this time when the sale of my house was finally reaching the point of going through. My agent, who was also an old friend, said he was going to save some of my emails as they were hilarious. I remember writing things like, "Well, they can go to hell. I'd rather have the house sit empty until next spring!" The other thing I had some problems with were house guests who acted weird and drove me nuts. I am usually so laid back and can tolerate just about anything, but until very recently, my lack of control over my temper has made it difficult to have anyone around me for more than a day or two. That's about my limit on graciousness. I seem to be past that though.. had a good visit with the couchsurfer from France. Maybe I'm finally healing enough to be more like my old self. It sure does take a long time to feel anywhere near normal again though. I think we underestimate just how long it takes to begin to heal.

  2. I completely relate to this, Dan. I get so frustrated with my youngest son's anger, yet I know my anger lies right at the surface and too often rears its ugly head. I find it difficult to know if his anger is just teenage anger or if it's grief. And why can't my kids just do what I ask them to do????????? Argghhhh!! We head home tomorrow morning and life returns to the new normal. Looking forward to it and slightly dreading it all at the same time..... Hope your appology this morning is sincere and your kids do everything you ask them to today :)

    (By the way, loved the Family Feud format!!!)

  3. Someone recently told me that teenagers have more weapons to dish out with than they have mechanisms to cope with what's coming at them. That has helped me have more compassion for teenager anger/angst in general. Anger often comes out when the underlying feeling is, "I'm afraid."

    The relationship with my boy-friend was the first opportunity for my children to see the presence of an affectionate, healthy relationship between two people. They have thus probably lost more than I can imagine at a time when they are seeking a sense of who they are; their identity.

    I know you mentioned a recent move. As adults we sometimes have the need to "start over" whereas children often find comfort in maintaining what is familiar. I imagine it is thus a difficult time on many fronts for your teenage son.

    I have no advice on the Playstation. We haven't owned a TV in over 8 years & the laptop time my children have is limited to weekends. :-)

  4. Thanks for the insights Cadi. It's good to be reminded that while teenagers appear to be young adults who can dish it out, they are actually older kids who are scared as hell.

    Thanks again.

  5. Oh, Dan .... my heart goes out to you. I, too, have a 16 year old son and an 18 year old son still at home (plus 4 older ones either in school or on their own). I have heard these same words and I have thought these same thoughts. Jim, too, was the calm voice in our family. I hate (and sometimes resent) having to do this parenting thing on my own. I totally didn't sign up for it! But .... here we are.
    And we will get through it. Won't we?!