Parenting (a 17 year old) 101

3 years ago

I knew as soon as I heard my son run into the bathroom and throw up.  In all honesty, I think I'd been waiting for it. I also knew that I had no idea how to handle it. Turns out, I handled it rather poorly...

The speed with which he ran, the fact that he missed the toilet and that he threw up multiple times gave him away. That and the smell. Despite all the work on my spiritual path, the anger washed over me quickly and without mercy. I wanted to throttle him. I demanded to know where he got the liquor. His story changed multiple times when he finally said that a friend had bought it for him. So I made him call his friend and sheepishly, my drunk son dialed his best friend and I proceeded to lash out. In another moment of fury, I banged on his dad's door, waking him up and telling him his son was drunk while demanding he get up to help me handle the situation. As if this would help...

My son is changing and it feels like a freight train coming straight at me. In many respects he's been such an easy kid to raise and now, at this specific place in his life, I don't feel like I have the tools to handle this. What do I do? Do I punish him or will the inevitable hang-over be enough? The folks on the mother of the year committee will have withdrawn my name after they hear that my first thought was to make my son do some wind sprints just so he would throw up again. I even went so far and to tell him to go outside and run and the poor boy headed outside - barefoot and in his pajamas. I doubt he even felt the cold. My nomination will be buried even further when they find out that when it was all said and done, he confessed to drinking alcohol from my stash. And of course that makes me feel even worse.

There are so many thoughts running through my head right now that it's hard to figure out the direction I am going. I know this is an experience I am supposed to be having and yet I am not sure what I am to take away from this. This may not make sense to some, but see if you can follow me here. Have you ever heard people talking about the belief that pets select their owners? I think that when I got my dog, we truly found each other. He has been the perfect dog for me in that he has been somewhat easy to train and overall, not too difficult to manage.  Don't get me wrong though - if I don't watch him, he gets into trouble. (I've got the pictures of my family room covered in corn starch to prove it!) Overall though, I think the Universe gave me exactly what I could handle. I think it has been that way with regard to my son as well. He has been an easy kid to raise in many respects, but I have certainly had to parent when necessary. Now at seventeen, my son has his own car, his own cell phone and his own bank account. His employer loves him and his co-workers all speak well of him. If allowed, he would willingly working forty hours a week while going to school.  And yet, he's never had a girlfriend, he spends hours on his computer in a fantasy world I will never understand, and eats a diet of processed food that only teenage boys can survive.  As much as I want to, I can't stop him from growing up and part of growing up is experimenting. But where is the line between the parental act of letting him know there are consequences for his actions and the spiritual act of simply loving him through this? Where is my parenting manual?

It also stings a bit that I have provided an opportunity for this experience... Instead of a gateway drug, I am a gateway mom. But, sadly, if not here, then certainly he would have tried it with, or from someone else. But that's only true if I cling to the belief that this is his first taste of alcohol, which is probably not the case either.  I'm still not sure of what my lesson is in all of this. And it may be clearer in the morning. On the other hand, my son is working a double tomorrow and part of his lesson will be dealing with the hangover that's sure to come.  Maybe some wind sprints and burpees in the morning will be a better punishment...

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